IN TODAY'S ISSUE
February 01, 2007
"When I Hear the Train Whistle, I Get Homesick"
Slidell Sisters Recover Together with Help of Volunteers
This Week's Quote
Keep Hope Alive (Slide Show)
"WHEN I HEAR THE TRAIN WHISTLE, I GET HOMESICK"
By Susan J. Meister, Gulf Coast Communications
After Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in August 2005, Miss Betty lived with her daughter for a few months and then bought a house right next door on the eastern side of Ocean Springs, MS. But she wants to go home.
"My husband built our house sixty years ago," the 76-year old said. "That's my home!"
Miss Betty's lifelong home is on the western side of Ocean Springs, near the Biloxi Bay. Wind and four feet of water from the storm surge of Katrina damaged her roof and ruined her furniture. She had to wait two months before she could even see the home and find some photos that were above the water line and others that she had happened to put in a plastic bag on the floor of her living room.
Miss Betty wants to send a message of thanks to all who have come to work on her home.
"We had never evacuated before," Miss Betty explained. "When Camille came, a little water came under the kitchen door. For Katrina I thought, 'Oh, it's not gonna get bad,' when my daughter wanted me to leave and we put things in the car. But then the wind picked up…."
Mississipi UM Katrina Response sends volunteer teams to help
After the storm, Miss Betty heard about the program at the United Methodist Church and filled out paperwork. (The Eastern Region of the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response is headquartered at St. Paul UMC.) Teams have helped gut the house and started the rebuilding effort. Eastern Region Director Robert Sharp noted that volunteers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas have worked on Miss Betty's home.
Miss Betty's lifelong home is across the street from active railroad tracks.
Miss Betty thanks all the volunteers who have come to Mississippi. "I wish I could get a message out to all those who have worked on my house," she cried. "I thank God for those who have helped."
"This storm has done something to me," she continued. "You think you are going to wake up and it's not so. We don't even say 'Camille' anymore. But I don't want to see anymore. Tell the people that TV just doesn't do justice.
"One of the volunteers was so nice - she gave me an afghan. I was so surprised that they just didn't run!"
"I explain that it's my home"
Miss Betty and her late husband have a strong connection to railroads. Her husband, who died 26 years ago, worked for the railroad. Their home was just across the street from busy tracks. Her husband took some old railroad ties and built steps in their back yard.
"You know, people ask me why I want to go back to the house and I just explain that it's my home," Miss Betty said. "When I hear a train whistle, I get homesick."
Volunteers are needed to continue the rebuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. To learn more, go to Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.
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For more on the United Methodist recovery work visit these web sites:
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)
UM News Service
Alabama-West Florida Conference