UMCOR / Our Work / Disaster Response / Ongoing / Katrina & Rita / Bright Spots / Archives 2007 / 20070607

UMCOR Bright Spots

June 07, 2007

Red Arrow-gift"Nothing is the Same - This is Not Normal"
Red Arrow-giftKatrina "Gumbo": A Strong and Bitter Taste
Red Arrow-giftThis Week's Quote
Red Arrow-giftRecovery Stats
Red Arrow-giftBay St. Louis bridge reopens (Slide Show)


By Susan J. Meister, Gulf Coast Communications

Even though Miss Tonya and her family live north of Interstate 10 in Biloxi, Miss., they felt the devastation of the wind and water of Hurricane Katrina. Their house on Paradise Lane took five feet of water from the storm surge even though it had been raised two feet after a 1988 hurricane.

Miss Tonya poses with

Miss Tonya poses with "Punch Bob" who is available "as needed" underneath her newly-raised home in Biloxi, Miss.
Susan Meister/UMCOR

With their own resources and help from family, Miss Tonya and her husband began the clean up and raised the house an additional ten feet themselves. But they realized how big a job the rebuild would be. She got connected to case manager Julie Duncan at Camp Seashore, Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response, who helped with supplies and volunteer teams.

Miss Tonya keeps a record of the names and addresses of all the volunteers who have worked on her home, from the team that gutted the house to the Amish team of 17 that re-roofed it. "I've met so many wonderful people," she said. "Each one is a blessing."

The family keeps many donations in an old school bus that they plan to drive away from future threats of wind and water.

The family keeps many donations in an old school bus that they plan to drive away from future threats of wind and water.
Susan Meister/UMCOR

Teenagers affected by the storm

Miss Tonya is worried about her two teenagers, now sixteen and thirteen, and how they have been affected by the storm. "I'm trying to keep things normal," she explained, "but nothing is the same - this is not normal." Both kids were out of school for three months, and now attend classes in makeshift buildings. Her son is a talented baseball player, who hopes to field a team even though many families have left the area.

Before the storm surge of Katrina, Miss Tonya took great pride in her yard and garden. Now it is difficult to keep things picked up because of construction and her health problems. The family was given an old school bus packed with donations. They'll drive it to safety if another storm threatens. The family has also acquired "Punch Bob," a soft plastic torso that is available to decorate or express frustration.

To help families in Biloxi, Miss., and other places along the Gulf Coast rebuild from the wind and water of Hurricane Katrina, contact the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.


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