Tent City Forges Friendships Between Strangers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/25/05

Tent City Forges Friendships Between Strangers

Gerald Perry has gone from living inside the warm Seashore Mission on Howard Avenue to making a home inside a tent just down the street.

"I was on the streets for awhile staying with some friends and I come down here and Virginia let me stay here."

Perry and four other tent dwellers pitched their temporary homes near Virginia McGown's camper. Before the hurricane McGown lived in a nearby rental home and is waiting to move back in after repairs. The two say life right now is chaotic.

"Everybody's got a different personality and different ways of doing things but we're all trying to get along. Trying to be friends and get along," Perry says.

"It's not peaches and cream. There's arguments, they vent, we vent and then after we calm down and everything else we apologize," McGown says.

McGown says they are more than just storm survivors.

"We're all like a family. They have nowhere to go, I don't either. I mean we're just here, we're existing until we can do better."

With a taste of winter in the air, McGown and Perry are grateful for what little shelter they have.

"And whenever it rains and it's cold and the dew's coming down on you, you ain't got nothing. At least we do have something," McGown says.

"It's gonna be very cold. I'm just trying to get me a FEMA trailer cause I'm epileptic and they're trying to get me off the street, but you know it's a slow process." Perry says.

The Salvation Army, churches and private citizens stop by a few times a week with food, blankets and personal items. And McGown has a grill set up outside her camper to cook food.

byMarcia Hill

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