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Pics from Ocean Springs, MS


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I got back from Ocean Springs, MS on Thursday night. I was helping out a church down there that my wife's father used to preach at.


On work trips I've been on in the past, when it was over, I've always had that, "Boy we really helped and got a lot accomplished" feeling at the end, but it was certainly nothing like that this time. There is just so much destruction and so much work to be done that it feels like a drop of water in the ocean.


Twenty families in the church have lost their house or have had major water damage, many more have flood damage. They have had work crews down there helping cut trees, gutting houses, distributing food and water throughout the community.


The going rate for the "entrepreneurs" that have come down to gut houses "professionally" is $4.50 a square foot - meaning a small 1,300 square foot house would be almost $6,000.


Spirits of the members seem to be good, but I can't imagine what they are really going through deep down - seeing their houses gutted and losing all of their belongings. Then they have to fight with insurance companies (the one person who had talked to an agent said that for his totalled house and all of its contents they were going to give him $26,000). Many of the members who have lost the most are still helping at the church building from morning till night.


Thursday morning we went around with the youth minister there - Steve - to see some of the destruction.


The main business streets don't have too much extreme damage - signs down, roof issues, etc. Big stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe's are open, and most fast-food restaurants are operating with limited menus. Other stores are slowly opening daily. The government game plan for the area was to get Ocean Springs up and running first, and then spread out to the other areas, using it as a home base.


As you leave the main streets, you begin passing neighborhood after neighborhood with piles of trash in front of the houses. At the beach, houses are either wiped out completely or have massive damage. The further you go inland, the houses start looking "normal" but they still had so much flooding that they have to be gutted, and most personal belongings are destroyed.


One of the houses we went into was Steve's own home - I know I had heard he had some damage but didn't register the extent because his attitude was always very upbeat and positive. His house was completely gutted and they had what was left of its contents in the middle of one room. After touring his house we took a group picture, and Steve was the only one smiling.


I've got more pics up here


- check out the other peoples photos too (someone donated a very impressive chainsaw.)


Things are going strong with donations and helpers now, but everyone down there is worried about the drop off as attention wanes.


There will be a lot of need for a long, long time in the Gulf Coast.

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