Displaced Airport Employees Living On-Site - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Displaced Airport Employees Living On-Site

Employees at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport shared a few laughs after hours Monday evening. They've been spending a lot more time together since the storm.

Nineteen FEMA trailers have been added to the airport's grounds, providing much-needed housing for employees who lost their homes in the storm.

"John and I were neighbors before the storm," said Joe Jenkins, an airport employee. "Now we're neighbors again. Everyone else out here works for the airport, so it's all employees. It's kind of nice, you already know each other."

Katrina wiped out the homes of dozens of airport workers, including the house that belonged to Joe and Carla Jenkins. Joe had already lost his home. He didn't want to lose his job. That's why he's grateful he's got it and a place to live.

"The airport helped expedite it, get the trailers out quick," Jenkins said.

Airport leaders say providing its employees with a place to set up camp was the right thing to do and critical for business.

"We realized after the storm, that commercial air service was critical to hurricane recovery. We took a look around and a lot of the airport employees and tenants didn't have a home or place to stay. Without the employees and the tenants, the airport is really nothing," said Don Shelpley, a Transportation Security Administration worker.

Life has certainly changed for these airport employees, but Joe says there are some perks to living in his new neighborhood.

"One thing, I walk to work everyday. I just walk across the parking lot. That's nice. And sometimes I can come home for lunch," Jenkins said.

by Toni Miles

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