Sunday, January 22, 2006


Well we continued the "deconstruction" of the Biloxi house until noon. A couple more roaches tried unsucessfully to befriend me, before I sent them along their enlightenment path!

We ate lunch in the van on the way back to the house, where we showered, changed, and packed up to go home. We were on the road by 3pm Ohio time. This is one LOOOONNNNNGGGGG drive, made longer due to some construction in Alabama. I got a few hours of sleep in fits and starts. We finally got home around 5:30am, when I collapsed into my own comfy bed and Gyan curled right up with me!

Saturday I spent catching up on all that stuff that piles up when you're out of town for a week. Doesn't look like I'll get my pictures posted until mid-week - due to football games and appointments this week.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Yesterday we spent the day at a house in Biloxi that had two feet of water in it. We're "deconstructing" this house down to the studs. Taking out all the drywall, windows, electrical, plumbing, all bathroom stuff (yes, even the toilet!). I never knew how many nails are in the drywall to hold it up! This was a comparitively easier day than previous days. Lots more variety of things to do, so I didn't feel like I only had to either load the wheelbarrow or empty it. I spent most of the day bashing out drywall and then removing all the nails.

The owner has lived in this house since she was born and is around 60ish, so she has a LOT of memories in this house. We didn't run across any personal effects at this house like we have at the other places, so this didn't seem quite as invasive somehow. When I was throwing away someone's books, sewing supplies, etc it felt like it was their personal stuff we were throwing away. Ripping out drywall isn't nearly as personal. Maybe that's why that part of the day was easier.

As some of you know, I DON'T do cockroaches! Well, there I was, up on a ladder, pulling off drywall (opposite the bathroom), and out pops 3-4 roaches! "EEEEKKKKKK" she screams as she goes flying off the top of the ladder! I was fine, the roaches however suffered greatly for scaring me like that! They paid with their little roachy lives. These weren't the little german ones - these were the HUGE Oriental ones. Maybe they weren't Oriental roaches, but they were BIG BIG BIG!

They weren't the only wildlife we found either! I'd seen some small round eggs (hatched). Lizards! These were cute little things. Lizards, I can deal with. Roaches I cannot!

Wednesday evening, we spoke with the gal who coordinates the housing. We thanked her profusely for our 5 star accomodations! Other folks stayed at the church in a big room with 40+ cots, others were in smaller rooms in the church with 4-7 cots, others were housed at tent city. We had great accomodations - a house to ourselves!

The housing lady lives here in Ocean Springs, just around the corner from the church. She showed us a picture of the storm surge taken from a 3rd story window. It's almost as if the ocean had been raised 20-30 feet in an instant. It was NOT just a wave. It was the storm surge and very very eerie. Behind the first surge were additional surges. This picture alone, gave me a clearer understanding of just how all the damage occured on the ocean front. It made me feel better (not really a good descriptor, but comparitively) to see locals having a hard time wrapping their head around all the destruction. I thought, since I'm not from here and didn't experience it firsthand, I wan't getting something. This isn't the case. These folks are having just as difficult a time wrapping their heads around it as well, only they have to live it, making it all the more difficult.

After we were done working on Thursday, we drove an additional 15 miles west from where we'd driven previously. The damage only gets worse (closer to the eye of the hurricane). Buildings were simply gone from the beach for 4-5 blocks back. A couple of buildings weathered the storm better than others, but all of those were still underwater by 20-30 feet.

I've been here nearly a week, and I'm still in shock and awe and speechless (well maybe not speechless!), but completely amazed at all the destruction. This goes on for miles and miles! It's not just a tornado that went thru and there's a mile or so of destruction. It's the entire coastline from east of Ocean Springs to West of New Orleans. These folks simply cannot (and will not) recover from this in any amount of time. Even once things are rebuilt, it will be new construction - not the beautiful old house Norma had seen since she was a little girl (she's 78) and had loved all her life and finally had the opportunity to buy, refurbish and restore only to have it completely destroyed.

How do you put a price on all your "stuff"? The family who's house we stayed at had bought a new house, moved in just before the storm, and the roof collapsed on the house. They had to move back into the house they hadn't sold yet. Initially we didn't understand why there was so little in the house... they'd lost it all in the house they'd moved into. They were all ok, but literally had to start over and they're one of the lucky ones. They didn't lose any family members and they still have their jobs. There are so many who now not only don't have a house, but don't have a job either.

When we were cleaning out the house in Biloxi, we needed to take a bathroom break. So we hopped in the van to head to the gas station... the first one, the bathroom didn't work, the next one we couldn't use. We finally went to the police station. There simply weren't any businesses open. We typically say, oh lets stop in McD's... not there! And this is a huge improvement over 3 months ago. The husband of the lady who coordinates the housing, stayed at home (their house is fine and they are ok). After the storm, for over a month, he had to drive to Mobile (47 miles away) to get gas and food. That was the nearest place to get gas and food! And we thought driving around for a couple of miles to find a bathroom was bad!

We're leaving this afternoon to head home. I'll post pictures sometime soon and add more thoughts then.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ahhhh... good food!

We ate out at a seafood place called Port 'O Call. Everything was fresh and very very yummy! We all ate way more than we should have, including some amazing homemade banana pudding! For those in the area or heading down here it's on Lemoyne Rd. From Christus Victor - take Bienville west then North (R) on Rt 609. West (L) on Lemoyne Rd (before you get to Rt 10 Highway). It's on the corner of McCam & Lemoyne. The restaurant doesn't have a sign (it was destroyed in the storm) but they have 2 flags out front, one says "open" the other says "restaurant". They've only been open a couple of weeks and have a limited menu. They also close at 7pm, so get there early!

As we were getting ready to leave Port 'O Call, I returned a container of coctail sauce we'd borrowed from another table, and had a short little pleasant exchange with the couple seated there. Then, as their waitress arrived they told the waitress "take good care of them, they're volunteers". Wow! I'm not sure how they knew we were volunteers, but we thanked them just the same.

Finished cleaning up "Norma's" place in Biloxi and headed to Ocean Springs to clean up another yard just at the end of the marina. I think we had a much bigger sense of accomplishment because the pile was so much bigger and we built it faster. But hauling wood and plastic debris is SO much faster than hauling bricks! We finished that job and will head to something different today (Thursday)

We're scheduled to finish cleaning out a house and spray it down. Stay tuned tomorrow and we'll see how that goes!

FYI - I haven't been able to post pictures, but will post them when I return.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Happy Exhaustion

It's only Wednesday and I'm already tired! Yesterday, we spent the day in the distribution center. Normally they serve around 160-180 cars, but it was raining nearly all day, and we only had around 70 cars. We made up food, hygiene, paper and other kits for folks. Lots of hauling of boxes! The manager of a local Mariott stopped by and donated close to 2 dozen comfortors. Apparently they change out the bedding regularly and she brought us literally all that would fit into her car!

Whenever you make donations to a food pantry or Faith Mission or something like that - please donate jam or jelly (in plastic jars). We have skids and skids of peanut butter but no jelly. Later I'll post the list of stuff they normally run low on, so the next trip down here can have a better idea of what to bring.

We're going back out to "Norma's" house today to help finish cleaning up her yard and slab. She is just the nicest lady - more on her later, since I'm late for morning devotions!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Pictures will have to wait until I get home, unless I'm able to figure out some way of getting them here by email - I did what they said to do... but no luck.


Folks had said, "you can't really comprehend the enormity of it until you see it" this is SO true! It's really hard to comprehend it even once you've seen it. We've seen the ocean front in Biloxi where the twenty foot storm surge came ashore. The first two blocks are quite simply gone. There's just no other way to put it. There aren't really even words for it. When you see a casino barge that's just as big as a regular barge on the other side of the road, with no scrapings on the road. This thing was lifted up, moved over and sat down!

We worked on a house yesterday where all that was left was the brick foundation. We helped the owner (a 78 year old woman) finish cleaning up the property. You wouldn't think our little pile of stuff at the curb at the end of the day amounted to much, but when it's nearly all bricks... We'll needless to say, we're all sore this morning and glad it's raining. We'll be in the distribution center today (I think).

It's really hard to put into words all the destruction along the coastline. Behind the beachfront, it looks like an huge bomb went off. Houses are off their foundations, the first two stories on apartment buildings on the coast have been completely gutted by the storm. The thing that really gets to me is the stuff in the trees and bushes. There's fabric (unidentifiable clothing), paper, string, and something that never occurred to me... gobs of Mardi Gras beads!

Just listening to the stories from the folks who've lived thru this is amazing. I could listen to them for hours. Like the man who sold his beachfront house a couple of years ago, and that house is now gone. He still suffered damage at his house - he had some roof damage from tree limbs.

Well, that's all I have time for this morning... I only have access to a computer when we're at the church, which is usually in the mornings. We could come back here for dinners, but you really don't want me to get into that (we went out last night). Suffice it to say I wish the Amish women were still cooking, but they've all returned home.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Here I am

We left Columbus at 6:50am in snow and arrived at Ocean Springs in much warmer weather, and certainly no snow. It took nearly to Tennessee before we lost the snow. The roads were fine, it was just the thought of snow... yuck.

We're staying in this huge house - 7 bedrooms! The owners are gone for the week and left it for us.

Haven't seen any serious damage, but it was dark when we got here. More on that tomorrow.

The worst part? 14 plus hours in a van! got lots of reading done, played my Palm games, and chatted.

(groan) It's been a REALLY long day. Good Night!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pics are not looking good...

But this will be good for my Dad, and anyone else still on dial-up! I'm nearly all packed. Have to load the car and I'll be ready to roll! To bed early, since we are supposed to leave at 6:30 am!

We did get some good news. We won't be staying at Christus Victor on the cold hard concrete floor at night. A family bought a new house, but haven't sold this one yet. So we'll be in a house - still on the floor, but hopefully carpet and certainly not concrete. Also, much quieter (not that matters to me!), but everyone else will sleep better.

Sweet dreams and I'll post again from the road!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Computer ready

I can post pictures using my computer! Now to figure out the Treo (my cell phone/PDA/toy) part!

Welcome to Louisiana!

Sort of... It's as close as I could find... actually I'm just trying to figure out how to post pictures!

Well, maybe I can only post text? So far my picture posting isn't happening.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Getting Closer!

Well, it's getting closer and closer! I suppose I should get some laundry done, so I can take some clean clothes with me!

We'll leave Saturday morning at 6:30am (yikes) and take the NEW church van. It's a 14 hour trip, but we'll be stopping for meals and breaks about every 3 hours or so (or when somone's bladder starts hollering!).

We'll be staying in the church on the concrete floor. I'll be taking my super comfy super thick camping pad!

A typical day will get us breakfast around 8am and heading to the worksite by 9am. Not sure what we're doing about lunch, but I'm sure there will be food somewhere!. Back to the church around 5ish. Not sure where we'll be eating our evening meals - it will depend on who's cooking! One week there were some Amish women cooking and folks ate there every night! We're planning on eating out at least one night.

The folks at work and in my small group have HUGE hearts! I have a big box from church, as well as $35 in Walmart cards (so far). My "Women on a Journey" group has donated some cash and a big bag of new toys for the kids in the clinic! Thank you to both groups for your support (and prayers).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ok, its getting closer and I'm getting excited about this trip. I've emailed folks I work with in hopes they will provide prayers and other material goods for us to take down with us.

I gotta start cutting back on my Dew! I'll be lucky to get one a day down there. Maybe (!) I'll be able to 'kick the habit'. LOL, we'll see!