Here is the update from the Biloxi Crew for Thursday and Friday evenings. I was saddened to read about the number of homes that are still uninhabited, abandoned and destroyed or badly damaged after so very long. I can't even imagine what it must be like to lose everything and have no way to rebuild. How does one start over after that? For me it has become much more real hearing it from people I know and not just seeing it on the evening news. I am sure these folks from home will be changed after this week as will be those to whom they tell their story.
It sounds like the crew has met some wonderful folks, like themselves. And they have learned a few things about insulation and sheetrock, I reckon. It will be good to see them again tonight as they stop on their way home.
I am a little concerned, though. They have been eating so well that I am worried about just what they'll think of my casserole topped with cornflakes!
Have a great day.
This is our Thursday evening report from Biloxi.
We began our day by leaving the BBM at about 8:15 AM for work at two
separate sites. You should know that departure time involves being up
at 6:00 to 6:30.
All of us except Terry and Hal were initially at Lucious' house to
continue the installation of dry wall. Two teams worked in separate
parts of the house installing dry wall while Sue did the spackling of
screw holes. Terry and Hal were back at Amil's house fixing some
sagging floor joists.
The work day ended at about 12:00 noon so we could enjoy a barbecue
feast of steak, ribs, fried and grilled shrimp, fried catfish, chicken,
coleslaw and potato salad prepared by Lucious. The attached photo of
the gathering includes Lucious on the right side.
While we were having lunch, we became aware of a backhoe operating in
the neighborhood and the noise of breaking lumber. The attached picture
shows what was happening: a nearby home was being demolished. This was
still happening at many locations, especially.
After lunch, we climbed in the two cars and drove two hours to New
Orleans to see the devastation in that city and also to visit the
French Quarter. The trip on Interstate I-10 included travel over some
temporary segments of the bridge over Lake Ponchartrain that replaced
the bridge deck that had collapsed in Katrina. Driving on the
interstate road just a few feet about the water level in the
The vastness of the damage due to flooding is impossible to imagine
even after seeing a small portion of the area close-up and realizing
that we could not see the end point of the damaged area. The Ninth
Ward, for example, is not merely a neighborhood but rather a large
town. If we drove by 100 houses on our trip through that area, 98 of
them were abandoned and no doubt damaged beyond repair. There were
occasional occupied homes, some of which had been repaired and some of
which had not been repaired but were occupied nevertheless. There were
scattered FEMA trailer villages but certainly not enough for the large
number of displaced individuals and families.
We did enjoy some time in the French Quarter where things seemed to be
relatively normal to those who had visited New Orleans in the past. Of
course, that area was not flooded in Katrina but was subjected to heavy
rain and wind.
You may have been wondering about the weather all week. We would have
to say it could not have been better. The daytime temperatures were in
the upper 60's or low 70''s except in the attic at Lucious house when
Hal and Sue were there installing insulation. We've been able to have
our dinners on the deck between the two trailers every evening.
The plan for tomorrow is for a long day at Lucious home hanging drywall
for all except Lisa who will be flying home. It will be very satisfying
to see the results of our efforts even though the overall project will
be far from complete. We will be following the completion of the job by
email contact with the BBM staff."
FRIDAY-Good evening on our last full day at the Back Bay Mission,
We concluded our work at the home of Lucious and Clementine Breeder
today with an intense drywall installation effort. We completed the
living room and the ceiling and two closets of the master bedroom by
splitting up into to teams. Eddie, Mary and Joe worked in the master
bedroom where they did two closets and almost the entire ceiling. Of
course, the closets are very difficult with lots of cutting of small
pieces. Mike, George and Hal continued the installation in the living
room and entry hall. Sue and Betsey "mudded" most of the drywall
screws and joints. Terry worked on the carpentry required to prepare
one bathroom ceiling for drywall.
You can see in the attached picture that the Betsey-mobile was
deputized as a BBM vehicle for the week by installation of a magnetic
sign on the driver's side door. The picture was taken in front of
Lucious' home in Gulfport.
The day's formal activities concluded with a "shrimp boil" at the BBM
trailers prepared by Don Morgan of the BBM staff. In addition to the
Wisconsin folks in the other trailer, we were joined for the meal by a
group of work campers from Hickory, North Carolina, who had
accommodations elsewhere. Shari Prestemone, Don Morgan, Lea Lyman and
Pam and John Small of the BBM staff also spent the evening with us.
Between dinner and dessert, all were invited to comment on their work
camp experiences. The testimonies confirmed all had had a memorable,
and, for some, a life changing experience. There was great satisfaction
for the way we had touched some people's lives and excitement about
new skills learned (drywall, insulation, installation of trim on walls,
working with new tools). We enjoyed getting to know our fellow MCC
campers better and meeting new friends, There was also disappointment
that so much remains to be done.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Sue, Terry, Hal and Betsey will begin their return
trip by car in, they hope, better weather. Mary, Mike, Eddie, Joe and
George will catch a 2:00 PM plane from Gulfport/Biloxi airport to
Atlanta and then on to Boston. Thanks to Nick Ward who has offered to
pick them up at the airport at 10:48 PM.
The BBM Crew wishes to thank all in the congregation for their support
and encouragement and specifically for the funds contributed over the
past year and a half that we brought with us to Biloxi. Your
generosity was noted by Shari Prestemone when we presented an MCC check
for $6,500 to her on Wednesday afternoon and acknowledged again this
evening when she thanked us for our "very generous" donation.
The crew has agreed that this is an experience we want to repeat and
offer to others. Therefore, be on the lookout for future announcements
about another trip to the BBM next year and talk to any of us about how
you might support the BBM in the meantime.
Mary, Mike, Joe (front), Eddie, Lucious, Rev. Lisa, Sue, George, Hal(front) and Terry.