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UMCOR Bright Spots

IN TODAY’S ISSUE
October 25, 2007

Red Arrow-giftCamp Guldside to Celebrate Three Completed Homes
Red Arrow-giftHomeowners Expect to See Volunteers again in Heaven
Red Arrow-giftThis Week's Quote
Red Arrow-giftRecovery Stats
Red Arrow-giftRebuilding Roofs...(slide show)

CAMP GULFSIDE TO CELEBRATE THREE COMPLETED HOMES

By Susan J. Meister, Gulf Coast Communications

The Mississippi United Methodist Disaster Response will dedicate three new homes in Waveland and Bay St. Louis at Camp Gulfside, Nov. 2. According to Bob Wallace, site coordinator, these three homes represent the first three, from-the-ground-up, rebuilds completed through the station. They add to the 200-plus homes already refurbished by Camp Gulfside, which is also managing an additional 17 homes (new construction). The progress celebrates the hard work of staff and volunteers helping to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall near these two towns in August 2005. The three homes being dedicated Nov. 2 were started in March and April of 2007.

The site of historic Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss. hosts staff and volunteers working to rebuild in Hancock County.

The site of historic Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss. hosts staff and volunteers working to rebuild in Hancock County.
Susan J. Meister/UMCOR

At a recent meeting, Case Manager Coordinator Deborah Strickland met with the Camp Gulfside staff to review progress and hammer out details of rebuilding. The discussion ran the full gamut from case management to construction details to volunteer scheduling.

“We have the full package,” Strickland later explained. “Other groups may come and go, but we’re the ‘slow and steady boat.’”

Full range of rebuilding services

The staff meeting represented the range of services provided by Camp Gulfside, and illustrated the complexities of rebuilding a community after a disaster. Case managers Rosalyn Norvel-Daniels, Cheryl Necaise and Lillian Jeffries discussed the status of grant applications for materials for rebuilding and the challenges in receiving documentation from homeowners in a timely way.

The site and volunteer coordinators, Bob and Nancy Wallace, reviewed the status of assessments and volunteer scheduling. Construction Coordinator Eric Church commented on the status of permits, assessments and contractor relationships.

A sign along Beach Boulevard in Waveland reminds residents and visitors that rebuilding goes on.

A sign along Beach Boulevard in Waveland reminds residents and visitors that rebuilding goes on.
Susan J. Meister/UMCOR

A detailed spreadsheet tracked the progress of the rebuilds—nine in process with two more ready to start. Each contained 30 discreet steps—from “Deed, Legal Plat, Sewer Affidavit” to “Appliances, Certificate of Occupancy.” Another spreadsheet detailed volunteer team assignments for additional homes being rebuilt.

More discussion centered on the best way to help clients select the features on their homes being rebuilt, and how to communicate the parameters to volunteer teams. Case managers are a vital part of the entire process, from client intake through the construction, and are the main point of contact for the homeowner with the disaster organization.

Volunteers and funds still needed

“Homeowners get anxious,” Bob Wallace admitted. “They’ll call and ask ‘Where are my volunteers?’” The Camp Gulfside staff are champions of the continuing need for volunteers and funds for rebuilding along the Mississippi coast, even two years after the disaster.

“We wish we could displace the myth that we are back in business,” Strickland exclaimed. “Businesses may say they are back, but there are no homes for their workers.”

To help families in Mississippi rebuild their homes and lives, contact Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.

For more on the United Methodist recovery work visit these web sites:
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)
UM News Service
Mississippi Conference
Louisiana Conference
Texas Conference
Alabama-West Florida Conference