UMCOR / Our Work / Disaster Response / Ongoing / Katrina & Rita / Bright Spots / Archives 2007 / 20071213

UMCOR Bright Spots

IN TODAY’S ISSUE
December 13, 2007

* Volunteers Add Green to Rebuilding Effort
* Volunteers Keep on Giving
* This Week's Quote
* Recovery Stats
* Volunteers Bake Pies...
(slide show)

VOLUNTEERS ADD GREEN TO REBUILDING EFFORT

By Susan J. Meister, Gulf Coast Communications

Trees and plants are an important subject of conversation for homeowners Mr. Eugene and Ms. Anna, whose home in Claremont Harbor, Hancock County, Mississippi, was destroyed by the wind and water of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

“We had a dozen 100 year- old pine and cedar trees on our property,” Mr. Eugene explained, “and two of them fell and smashed our house before the storm surge washed the entire home away.”

Mr. Eugene (right) and volunteer Dave Schomer pose for a photo under his raised home in Hancock County, Miss.

Mr. Eugene (right) and volunteer Dave Schomer pose for a photo under his raised home in Hancock County, Miss.Photo courtesy Carolyn Schomer

“We had gardens all around our yard,” he continued. “Three fig trees were the first things to turn green again after the storm.”

Mr. Eugene has welcomed many volunteer teams to help him rebuild his home. “I have a huge book of names and addresses,” he said. “I think I’ve had a team of almost every religion!”

Volunteers help rebuild and replant

Nineteen teams from Trinity UMC, Warner Robbins, GA, have traveled to the Gulf Coast over the past 24 months, including a group headed by Kirk Kukshtel who traveled to Diamondhead UMC seven days after the storm with a trailer filled with supplies. The teams have been organized through the efforts of Camp Gulfside, Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.

Several teams from Trinity have worked on Mr. Eugene’s home. In February 2007, they helped insulate his home, which is raised eight feet. During that trip, gardeners Roger and Shirley Boan were deeply affected by the appearance of “grey” everywhere they looked.

“Roger came back to Trinity with a mission,” said disaster relief chairperson Carolyn Shomer, “to return in the fall with plants and trees for homeowners who lost their green and flowers as well as their homes.”

“My husband loves to dig in the dirt,” laughed Shirley Boan. “We got a good response from people in our congregation who donated items for us to take. We plan to return in the spring with another van load of plants already promised by a nursery and church members.”

 Roger and Shirley Boan filled their truck with donated plants for Mr. Eugene's yard and other homes being rebuilt.

Roger and Shirley Boan filled their truck with donated plants for Mr. Eugene's yard and other homes being rebuilt.
Photo courtesy Carolyn Schomer

Volunteers add green to the landscape

A recent study from Tulane University, New Orleans, published in the journal Science, reports that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or severely damaged some 320 million trees in Mississippi and Louisiana. The volunteers from Georgia are working to do their part to bring green back to the landscape in Hancock County, with plantings at Mr. Eugene’s home and other newly rebuilt homes in the area.

“Ms. Anna was so appreciative of the plantings,” Boan continued. “She saw life again.”

“It is surprising how many volunteer teams we’ve had,” Mr. Eugene added. “The first group to help us dig out was United Methodists from Kansas—they just showed up and asked, ‘Can we help?’ Last year, another United Methodist group gave us a Christmas tree with lights.”

“The first year we just put candy canes on the tree, but this year we’ll have more ornaments,” he said. “The help we’ve received has been fantastic.”

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