Camp Victor still helping rebuild South Mississippi

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - You'll see plenty of messages written on the walls inside Camp Victor.  They're written by volunteers who've stayed here.  Among them are prayers, blessings, messages of thanksgiving, and plenty of college logos.

Each one is a memory of the more than 15,000 volunteers who have stayed at Camp Victor and done an estimated $18 million worth of labor to help South Mississippi overcome disaster.

Maps posted in the facility show the magnitude of the Camp Victor ministry.  Pins mark the hometowns of every volunteer who has visited the facility.  But although the maps from the first two years after the storm are completely blanketed with pins, maps from the past two years have some extra room.  It's a sign the gush of volunteers and financial support at Camp Victor has slowed to a trickle.

"The first year we would average over a 1,000 volunteers per month," said Suzie Harvey with the ministry.  "Now we're doing good to get over 400 a month, so it has decreased."

Harvey said it's especially hard these days to complete camp victor's mission of getting South Mississippians back into affordable homes.

"We still have a lot of people that are in their homes that just haven't been repaired since the storm," Harvey said.  "They're living in mucked out houses in bad conditions."

She added that some South Mississippians seem to believe the job is much closer to completion than it actually is.

"We think on the Gulf Coast its probably about 30 percent complete," she said.  "So they said there's a long way to go and it makes it harder when there's lack of funds."

The ministry isn't giving up on its goals.  Instead, they're asking the community to pitch in and help get South Mississippians back into their homes for good.

"It's really going to take the community to finish the job," she said.  "We're trying to do an 'Adopt a Family Program.'  Where church groups or community groups or just individuals can get together and sponsor or adopt a family and pay for the materials to get them back in their home."

They are also hoping to organize community build days, where interested people donate their time to help their neighbors.

Anyone interested in learning what they can do to help is invited to an open house Saturday.  The event goes from Noon until 4 p.m. at Camp Victor on Government Street in Ocean Springs.

Facility managers will give tours and information on the ministry to the public.

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