Biloxi, MS - Day Two

Karol Collymore

Today I learned why I got a tetanus shot before I came on this trip: rusted out cars, motorhomes and nails. Some in the group have deep gashes in their skin and we all have bug bites. I think the initial first day excitement has worn off to show that this indeed is hard, labor-intensive work. Today we returned to Lawrence's house to continue mold removal. We wiped the walls with stuff I can't pronounce, waited for it to dry, then sealed the walls with stuff called "Kil." Yes, I scrubbed hard in the shower this evening. I don't know where Kil has been, but I don't want it visiting me later. There was a big snake, lots of roaches, no bathroom, but still jokes and fun. We have sore backs and hands, but we won't complain. We chose this, right?

The last couple of days a woman named Sheri has been taking our pictures and hanging out. She says we are the best entertainment she's had in a while. Before the hurricane destroyed her house, she was a burgeoning photographer. Now, she goes to job sites with her husband collecting rusted out metal to pay rent in their FEMA trailer. They had been camping in the woods for spells of time. Their trailer, a hand-me-down.

Things that struck are group today are the amount of political ads that run on the radio stations here. They also haven't learned the yard/street sign lesson. Candidates like Haley Barbour - who's running for governor - talk about their Christian values ad nausem. No seperation of church and state here. It seems the race is more about who is closer to the "Creator" and who is more conservative. There is little mention of continuing to rebuild Biloxi and it seems most of the work being done are by young volunteers who've come for months at a time simply to work. I saw whole parks, murals, walking trails and homes all repaired or build by volunteers. If you are that close to the Creator, get her down here, will you? We were also taken aback by what seemed to be segregation. In our volunteer center and in the parts of town we've seen so far, no Black people. Folks in the South talk about intergration, but I haven't seen it yet. That makes me a little jumpy; knee-jerk reaction probably, but also some actual fear.

Tomorrow we finish Lawrence's home so he can finally drywall and finish putting his life back in order. All that are going are thrilled have rounded out a project and Lawrence offered us a steak dinner. We didn't accept, but hugs and pictures all around and most importantly, a promise of a finished home.

  • Lewis (unverified)

    What a beautiful piece of humanity to hear great stories. Things that warm me, move me, and remind me of what I'm NOT doing in my own life. Keep up the great work. I know that Lawrence will be more than appreciative of the help.

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    We want to see Sheri's photos!

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    Keep us updated Carole. Especially the cultural/social stuff.

    I rode a bike through the South in '04 and I kinda felt like I was in a foreign country.

    The natives were polite and friendly but, like in England, it seemed like we didn't understand each other as precisely as should have been the case with a common language.

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    Not Carole. Karol.

    Sorry about that. Haven't had my coffee yet.

  • Andy Nelson (unverified)

    Your sense that much of the rebuilding is because of volunteers seems to be the case. When a group from Hands On was last down in the Gulf Coast, in March, the Times-Picayune ran a special section called "On the Wings of Angels." The section documented just how much of the rebuilding is getting done by volunteer groups like yours.

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