After Katrina: Long Beach Volunteer Support

LONG BEACH, MS – While much of Mississippi is currently struggling with dry conditions, memories of much stronger weather conditions are a not so distant memory.

As we hit the 10 year mark of Hurricane Katrina, we’re reminded how the storm leveled parts of the gulf and how volunteers poured in from across the country to help re-build.

As WJTV’s Terrance Friday explains, for one Long Beach woman, that support is something she’ll never forget. He’s followed up by Adele Lyons with Habitat South Mississippi.

Julie Berry has lived in the same house since she was in the fourth grade. As you can imagine, since that time she has seen a lot of changes. She says none will ever be as vivid as a memory as Hurricane Katrina.

“We rebuilt after Camille. We had about 7 and a half feet of water after Camille, but we still had the outside walls. We made it 36 years later without another bad one. We had some bad ones, but it was not enough to destroy the house. After Katrina, we were slabbed out which means you’re down to the slab, ” she remembers.

Berry’s father owned a construction company and worked quickly to get the family home back

Berry tells us it’s hard to really describe how bad things were. As a pass christian native, she couldn’t even recognize her own street. She says:

“It looked like what you see in the old movies of bombed out areas in Europe. It was like there was no color anywhere because there were no  trees. The grass was all dead after the salt water came in. Everything was just very black and white looking.”

After that, Berry says she spent the next few years renting and going back and forth with insurance companies. She credits volunteers from  a small church in oxford for giving her a second wind she needed to keep fighting.

“Those people were wonderful from the Methodist church in Oxford, Mississippi and we appreciate them so much. Everybody down here just about got help from some church group,” she says.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity of South Mississippi say those thousands of volunteers were a godsend for them as well.

“The volunteer support to help rebuild the coast; we would not be anywhere close to where we are today and what you see today. Our organization or the entire coast, without volunteer labor,” says Chris Monfortan, chief executive OFC of Habitat South MS.

It’s been a crazy ride…and then we’ve just done 25,000 volunteers…over 900 houses. Just a huge ammount of work but a great impact for the community,” says Adele Lyons with Habitat South Mississippi.

“There was an outpouring of love from this whole United States and from foreign countries too so we were really blessed,”



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