A Volunteer’s Story: Back to the Gulfport

We got there, but FEMA, Bell South, and Mississippi Power had reserved all of the available hotel rooms for tens of miles surrounding the Gulf Coast, so Lisa and I slept in our respective trucks, but not before meeting up with two very compassionate men who we knew and worked with from Meridian, Mississippi and the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross.

These two men stayed in Gulfport to watch over us through the night knowing that we were young women in an area foreign to us, even though they wouldn't come out and say that is why they stayed. One of the men also donated money towards the gas for our trip. When I tell you that the people associated with the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross in Meridian are special, that is an understatement.

As Lisa and I continued on our journey, we were told that Pascagoula and Moss Point were in need, so we drove from Pearlington to these areas only to find out that these two communities were spared major damage. It is not that these communities didn't sustain some damage, they just didn't sustain the amount and severity that Pearlington, Waveland, Kiln, and Dedeaux sustained. We made our way back into Kiln, Mississippi where we met up with Steve and Cecelia Howard of Comanche Street.

Steve and Cecelia are the owners of the house we helped gut on our first trip down to the Gulf Coast. These two people are beyond generous with their time. After Steve and Cecelia shopped through our trucks of goodies, they helped set up a free shopping mart in front of their home for their community. Lisa and I went door to door in this Jordan River Shores community letting the people of Kiln know that we had brought an assortment of goodies for them to help in this rough time. Once again, the response from the Kiln community was one of gratefulness and an overwhelming feeling because people cared enough to come and help them. We were even helped by Victor, Pete, Stacey and some others when our van was sucked into a ditch. The contaminated mud on the road was so slick that we slid into this ditch and were stuck in about four feet of mud and contaminated water. I was able to get out of the driver's window, Lisa had to climb out of the passenger door where we struggled with the quicksand. I managed to get out and ran back to the two gentlemen we had just offered assistance to only to ask them for assistance in getting us out of the ditch. The cavalry came to the rescue but it took about two hours to get us out.

While this was going on, Steve and Cecelia became worried and were about to send a search and rescue team for us until they were alerted that we were safe and back on dry land. After recuperating from that ordeal, we met Ann and Daughlton Buzby (an elderly couple I helped to get a FEMA trailer for working with the govenor's office), neighbors of Steve and Cecelia, and they instantly became our friends along with the other neighbors.

The weather was very hot and humid while we were in the Gulf Coast and it was getting late. Rain was threatening so we packed the donations and wrapped them in a tarp so that people could continue to shop the next day. After taking our first shower in a couple of days while at Steve and Cecelia's trailer, we decided to stay over night because it was too late to get on the road and we needed some sleep.

Steve and Cecelia wanted to take Lisa and myself out to dinner to thank us and we didn't dare say no. So the four of us, along with Ann and Buzz, had dinner at the Cajun Connection, a hot spot in town. We dined on catfish, laughs and a bonding friendship. At one point, a woman eating at a table behind us overheard us talking. When she realized that Lisa and I were volunteering down there, she tapped me on the shoulder and thanked us for being there and helping make a difference in their lives. Lisa and I signed the wall at the Cajun Connection restaurant letting the people of Kiln know that they are in our thoughts and that we will be back. After a long day, Steve and Cecelia opened their new home to us, a FEMA trailer they finally got two days prior, after living in ruins since the hurricane hit.

Time to catch some Z's.

God bless,


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