SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - As South Mississippi prepares to mark nine years of recovery since Hurricane Katrina, plans are already in the works for the 10th anniversary of the monster storm. This week, a Massachusetts organization is on the Coast making plans for a building blitz next August. The volunteers have an ambitious goal; build five homes in five days.
Many homeowners displaced by Hurricane Katrina found hope when Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia arrived on the Gulf Coast. The volunteers helped restore or build 95 houses, mainly in east Biloxi.
The organization became the Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders, based in Massachusetts. For the volunteers, their experience was unforgettable.
"It was really a life-changing event for so many of us, and it was the ability to give back and to serve. It's just been amazing to be a part of the experience, so we just want to come back to Biloxi so badly," said Fuller Center Board Member Pete Berlowitz.
Expect to see many of those faces again. The Fuller Center is organizing a return trip next year for the 10th anniversary of the storm. More than 200 volunteers are expected to converge on the Coast to build five homes in the days leading up to August 29.
"It's five days of absolutely amazing things to watch a house go up in five days," said Berlowitz.
Two of those homes will be for Hope CDA, one for Boat People SOS and the other two houses will be for military veterans. The VFW Post 2434 in Biloxi will provide meeting space and serve as a referral site for applicants.
"We realize it's very limited, but we're proud and happy to work with these people, the volunteers from out-of-town, to build these homes so our veterans could have a better life," said VFW 2434 Cmdr. James Corley.
The organization will be very busy over the next ten months working out the details of this building blitz, like finding the right lots and future homeowners, financing, contractors and of course, housing and meals for all of those volunteers.
"Yes, it's flown by, and it's been fun to watch the Gulf Coast come back," said Berlowitz. "Many of these homeowners just need a little bit of help. That's what we're hoping to do."
The building blitz is set to take place next year from Aug. 24 through Aug. 28. Some volunteers will arrive a few weeks early to set up the equipment and make other preparations.