OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Almost 9,000 volunteers came to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and on Saturday a round of applause went to the men and women who came to towns they've never heard of to help people they didn't know.
"We're celebrating the wave of compassion, hope and lives. And what God did in the aftermath," said Jon Kaufman, senior pastor.
Many say they can't believe it's already been ten years since Hurricane Katrina swept away so many homes and lives.
St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ocean Springs gave a huge thanks to the volunteers that helped rebuild homes and rebuild lives on the Gulf Coast.
"Growing up in the area of Alabama that I grew up in, I've seen a lot of tornadoes, and I knew what kind of damage that could cause. But nothing prepared me for what I saw when I got here," volunteer John Rogers of Atlanta said.
"We found people usually in two conditions. If they didn't have faith, they didn't have an identity in Christ and a lot of them were suicidal, depressed, upset. But if they had an identity in Christ they were still upset, but were going to make it. They had some hope," Mike Malkemes of Houston said.
Along with the countless volunteers and credible compassion that poured into the communities along the Coast, there were also local leaders that helped with recovery.
Leaders like Ocean Springs' current mayor Connie Moran, who had been elected as the city's mayor just six weeks before Katrina's fury hit the Coast.
Moran expressed how immeasurable the volunteers help and support was right after the storm.
"The outpouring of support from world leaders, from volunteers like yourselves who came and put their sweat into it, lived in tents and helped us get our lives back together will never be forgotten," Mayor Moran said.
There's something about the place you call home that anchors you. Without the help from the thousands of volunteers, Coast communities wouldn't have been able to become family and appreciate their growth ten years later.
"Not only did the communities here grow, but everybody that came down to help grew. You couldn't help going through that experience without growing," Malkemes said