DAY TWO IN VERY SUNNY AND VERY WARM GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI
Hi everyone, I cannot thank you all enough for the great questions and your fabulous words of encouragement. Today was a big day and I returned back to base very anxious to read the messages from all of you. I was so suprised and extremely happy to find 82 . As I said, today was a very big day and so I will not be able to answer all of the questions today. I will, however, answer the ones I can't get to by tomorrow. I think you're all great to spend your time learning and caring about other human beings in need.
This morning started out at 7a.m. with a great blueberry waffle breakfast made by two of the volunteers. I have met so many people and made so many new friends. Our base is composed of people from Westchester, and a group of Americorps members. After breakfast we each made our sandwich for lunch, packed a couple of bottles of water and jumped into the cars and trucks to begin our day. Ms. Rentz and I went first with Martha Lee, the Mississippi disaster coordinator to the beach area of Gulfport to take some pictures for all of you to see. Upon completion of our trip we joined the other volunteers for our day's assignment. Today my job was to paint 8 doors and the molding around the doors so they could be placed in the home that I was assigned to for today. This happened to be the final day at this family's home and I will show you pictures and tell you about the family.
But first, the Gulfport beach. The Gulfport beach was known for miles and miles of beautiful large old homes. There were no condos, no hotels, just large, gracious old homes. I was told that before Katrina you could not see the water for the homes and now this is what you see.
The Stairs To Nowhere.
This is what the Gulfport beach now looks like. All the houses are gone. I am told there are 70 miles of Mississippi Coast which look just like this. As you drive by the beach there are machines that are sifting the sand for pieces of glass and debris, etc. No one is allowed in the water. The sand under the water is still full of all kinds of depris. Things like stoves, refridgerators, etc. have been found. Recently an 18 wheeler was pulled right up out of the sand under the water. It had been completely buried.
After leaving the beach we rode around the center of Gulfport and I have put a few pictures on for you to see what I saw.
The following is a picture of what used to be a convenience store. Notice the soda machines in the middle of the picture. The left side of the picture shows a huge billboard which blew down. The right side of the picture shows shelves which still have things on them that originally for sale.
The above picture shows the shelves that actually still contain items that were originally for sale.
This picture was another house which had been on the beach. The owners of this home, through it all, loved the U.S.A. enough to erect a flag pole and display an American flag. That says so much.
This picture shows what once was a lovely two story home.
This next picture shows the front door of some family's home and their fear that someone will destroy their house. So many of the homes are just not repairable and have to be torn down. To some, however, this is unthinkable as their family has lived on their property and in their home for generations.
This tug boat was originally washed to shore during the Hurricane Camille. The water level during that storm was only 7 feet deep and the residents of Gulfport left this boat across from the shore and made a gift shop out of it. The inside of this tug is now completely destoyed from katrina.
What you will be looking at next was a school. Only the brick exterior remains. The inside was totally destroyed. Half of the schools down here are still not open and students are forced to go to school in small trailors with very little supplies. The exteriors of many of the buildings which were made of brick stand but stand empty.
I thought you might like to see this next picture. With all that these people have gone through they are still very friendly, appreciative and hospitable. Many also have a great sense of humour. The sign outside of this house says, "Gone to the Virgin Islands".
The tour is over and the work day must begin. Below you can see one of the volunteer teams packing up a truck. These gentlemen were working on a team which was putting a roof on a home. And what did I do for the day?
I was at the new home of Miss Beatrice. She , her daughter, and her three grandchildren lost their home and had been living in a trailor. I was there for the final day of work at Miss Beatrice's. My job was to paint doors and moldings around the doors so they could be placed in her home. Miss Beatrice also had a mixed breed female dog that had just given birth to 7 puppies. I could not get a picture of the puppies to show you as the mommy dog kept them way underneath the house for protection.
This picture shows Miss Beatrice, Ms. Rentz and myself as we were getting ready to leave at the end of the day. Miss Beatrice was so appreciative for her new home and had tears in her eyes and a big smile on her face as we said goodbye. If you are wondering why I keep calling her Miss Beatrice this is why. In this area it is a custom to call a person either Miss or Mr. followed by their first name.
Well I know that you all have been wondering what do the tents look like that we are staying in. The above picture shows the tent city at our base at Westminster. We, however, are staying in small travel trailors due a big problem with the Fire Ants. The Americorps members are camping out in the Church building. I will show you a picture tomorrow.
It is now time for me to sign off for the day. I will be back on tomorrow bringing you more pictures and more information. In the meantime remember the people here in the Gulf Coast. They are wonderful, friendly, hopeful, hospitable and appreciative.
Stay healthy, safe and thankful,