Aley United Methodist Church

Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Trip
September 6 - 10, 2005

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- The Team -

The Team: Dave R., Rich, Dave W., Mike, Bill and Aric.

The Tools: Personal Trucks and Borrowed Trailers

Loaded with supplies donated by Aley UMC members and friends.
This included health kits, water, gas, clorox, generators, and more!
These "leave behind" plywood sides made this a great trailer for hauling supplies
and handing them out as we went down the various streets.


FYI - Mississippi Squirrel Revival - by Ray Stevens

As we arrived in Pascagoula you could see that stores were beginning to re-open and
remove storm protection. Looks like the plywood covers worked pretty well.

We unloaded our supplies and set up "camp" at Eastlawn UMC in one of their
second floor classrooms. The first floor had been flooded but was getting cleaned out
as time permitted. Their first priority was getting supplies available to residence via the

We were fortunate that the weather was cool at night. A few of our crew slept under the
stars the first night. The bugs weren't even out (washed away perhaps) ... and you know that's
not gonna last!

This truck is ruined from the flood water. We're just moving it out of the way. Of course, Dave
does need a lot of supervision, so we were making sure the jack went in right.


The supplies were available to the general public from 9am to 5pm each day. No sign
of racial bias that we saw. This church is probably mostly white and in a mostly white
area of Pascagoula, yet black and whites worked in the pantry and mostly black families were
here getting supplies. No one was concerned about black or white, just that they were getting
what they needed to survive and recover!

This stack of water was continually restocked. Even a week after the storm, potable water is
in high demand and very much appreciated. The National Guard would also bring in pallets
of ice to hand out (which they had available at the fairgrounds as well). Ice is a very
important item while the power is out!

The gym floor is likely going to need to be resurfaced, but that doesn't matter for now. It was
cleaned out and then crammed full of supplies needed for the storm victims. Clorox, soap,
baby supplies (diapers, baby food, etc.), health kits and supplies, blankets, sheets, paper
products, canned foods, ...

... school supplies, coloring books, crayons and toys for kids, and more. The only
clothes of real use in the first few weeks are shoes, jeans, socks and underwear.

All the rest of the clothes are piled up and available, but mostly in the way. If you donate clothes
please sort and mark the bags so there is no need to sort them on site (there just isn't time).
Save other clothing for later in the relief effort.

Oil for chain saws, and shoes are pictured here. As you will see, chain saws are needed
since there is so much tree damage.

Other teams come and go during our brief time here (as we do the same). Some are
organized and ready with equipment and supplies. Others are winging it like we did. All
are appreciated and all provide a drop in the bucket to the relief effort ... but with
enough drops, the bucket does get filled.

Just across from the chruch, you can see the tree damage including a tree on the house
to the right.

- Out and About in PASCAGOULA -

Essentially all belongings that were in the strom surge are being taken to the street to
be hauled away as trash. Black mold, putrid food, soaked furniture and bedding
all make the job hard and often very smelly!

We did some door-to-door supply delivery down the streets, mostly trying to find
residents that can't get out to the supplies. These folks pictured here all have transportation
but it's our initial tour of the area. We found the areas that needed help pretty quickly.

This street has several dumpster trucks and heavy equipment trying to get the trash
out of the way.

Some houses are a total loss.

As you get closer to the ocean, you get greater and greater damage.

This house shows a sense of humor in their very serious warning. Who would dare take
something when the place is gaurded by an inflatable doll?

Notice the garden hose. Nothing left of this house but the slab and a few supports.

This picture shows the difference between structures built to the new codes and the old.
This overlooks the ocean. The only thing left standing is the new code building ...
and it seems to have faired pretty well ... no doubt still soaked on the inside.

Many houses will be condemned so that they are rebuilt to the newer codes.

Here Mike and Aric just took a refridgerator to the street. Appliance and building supply
companies will be busy for months to come to keep up with demand.

This house had 6 feet of water but they had flood insurance (only ones on the block that did).
So we put their stuff by the house for the adjustor to review before it gets hauled away.
The residents were a couple in their 60s (now camping out in the tent on the lawn). Oddly
this house had power. But almost everything inside was lost. You feel bad hauling out all
their positions, but they appreciated the help and had pretty good spirits considering.

The carpet has to go ... soaked in saltwater and mold is everywhere. Their animals (cat and
a dog) survived by staying on floating furniture. The couple escaped in a neighbor's boat
(sinking because it had the plug out for storage) along with some of the others. They found
a 2 story house to weather the storm in. They stayed because he was a correctional officer
and basically had to until too late to evacuate. Most others stayed because they didn't
believe it would be that bad. Lots of prior hurricanes didn't get them, so they gamble.

Oddly the "Get-R-Done" hat is appropriate for getting the supplies out.

This is not a good way to make an amphibious car.

This house is totally gutted by the storm. Many home owners put the address in big
spray-painted letters to identify their house for insurance adjustors
(to make sure they had the right place).

- Biloxi -

As part of our crew make our way to Biloxi to see what we can do there, notice
the McDonald's sign. I call it Ronald McDonald Descending the Arches
(a lesser known work by Picaso).

In truth I have no idea if the storm did this to the fire hydrant, or if it was that way
before, but it's interesting.

This is the front of Heritage UMC in Biloxi. They had some wind damage, but were far
enough away from the ocean not to get hit by the surge water. They also had a supply pantry
and were giving out aid. Biloxi and Gulf Port seemed better off in terms of relief efforts.
The Red Cross, National Guard and many church organizations were well organized here.

We got some directions and headed to Gulf Port to assist.

- Gulf Port, MS -

In Gulf Port a Baptist church had a hot meal drive-thru up and running in conjunction
with the Red Cross.

What self-respecting storm doesn't love a trailer park? A lot of these were hit hard.

Supplies, supplies, supplies! Our health kits were very much in demand!

All kinds of car damage.

Looting? Yes there was some. In Gulf Port the high-priced beach front area was immediately
looted after the storm. Here the National Guard enforces restricted access and a curfew.

However, there wasn't really much left to loot. The view to the beach shows extensive

We even helped someone who got their van stuck just waiting to meet his brother!

We were to be self-sufficent ... so we had tents and did our own cooking
(at least until we were on the road and ate at restaurants ... many were open again).

- Picayune -

This gas station "mini-mart" was getting cleaned out with guys in HAZMAT type suits!
Rancid meat and food is gross and smelly. Our guys wished they had this on Thursday!

Picayune, Miss. was really hit hard by wind and storm but is too far away from the ocean
for surge water damage. They had lots of trees and power lines down.

This is were some of our generators went, since they will probably not get power
for a week or two yet. Power was being restored in most of the coastal areas, but a bit
further north, like this, will have to wait a while longer.

A Hillbilly shower anyone?

More powerlines down.

Dave, cousin Kim and her friend discuss the meaning of "not far" in terms of getting
more supplies out to the community. Apparently "not far" isn't well understood in
rural areas <g>, but after a few more deliveries (and hours) we headed back home!

My general impression was that Mississippi was doing a good job digging out. It's not as bad
as the press reports, but it was still bad. We did not see La. but guess it is worse off the closer
you get to New Orleans. There is still months and months of work to be done here,
but they will rebuild. While it will cost billions to rebuild, it will also stimulate the
economy and bring new jobs. Aley is planning to send semi-truck load of supplies
along with a dozen more volunteers to help out on September 26th.

Places to Donate Money and/or Time:

Aley United Methodist Church
UMCorps and UMC (United Methodist Church)
Salvation Army
Red Cross

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