|Hurricane Katrina Relief- Week 7 & 8|
|March 31, 2006 --- (214 days or 7 months after the storm)
The roof is on, the walls are up, the paint is on, the trim is done, the floor will be finished tomorrow. Every step is a milestone. A milestone turning what was a Hurricane ravaged building into a home and business for Mien, the woman who our crew has been helping for the last week. Mienís home and business were leveled by the storm. She tried moving to Alabama where one of her sisters lives, but her heart was in Long Beach, Mississippi where she has lived for almost twenty years. She was left with two empty lots, and no hope of re-building without the income from her shop.
She was driving through downtown Long Beach one day, when she saw an older man struggling dragging some debris out of a small building. She stopped and helped him, and in the process told him her story. He told her she could take over the payments of the building and have it.
Mienís family is just one of the 160,000 families in south Mississippi made homeless after this storm. She stayed in the shelter and then the tent city, both of which closed, and then her car, before the roof was on her new building and she could sleep there.
The biggest milestone of all is coming. Mien will be open for business by the end of next week, and her daughter, who has been staying with family, will be able to move back in with her.
Mienís story is one of resilience, patience, and hope. And we have been so blessed by her, and this opportunity to be part of the re-birth of this building. A tiny part of the renewal in this region.
South Mississippi still looks like an atomic bomb was dropped here. There is still debris and collapsed houses everywhere. But the debris is smaller, like the little things left over once youíve packed everything in your house. And the blue-roofs have been turning into real roofs, the first step of re-building.
For the people who own slabs or collapsed homes, the future is uncertain. Living in tiny camping trailers (if they are lucky), they are told it will be at least two years until they can start rebuilding.
Camp Coast Care, the Lutheran/Episcopal Disaster Response Camp where we are working, will be open for an estimated 5-8 years. Volunteers, passion, and funding at Camp Coast Care have been growing, not declining. Every person or group who comes here leaves with plans to return with a bigger group from their church and more money and supplies.
It is a life-changing, life-giving gift to be here, and worth anything youíd have to give up for a week to be here. The roof is going on south Mississippi, and you can be part of it whether or not you have any roofing experience!
We miss you all, and look forward to seeing you soon! And we are already making plans for our second, third, and fourth trip!
Leann, Robyn, and Robin