Pittsburgh Volunteers Help A Long Beach Couple Rebuild

After witnessing the destruction of Hurricane Camille in 1969, a veteran decided decades later, to come back to the coast with reinforcements. Elfinwild and Oakmont Presbyterian Churches in Pennsylvania joined forces, packed up their vans and made the 17 hour trip to South Mississippi.

Pittsburgh Volunteer Mark Feris calls Katrina's devastation, "Dejavu times ten. I don't think there is any comparison."

He was stationed at Keesler in 1969 and remembers what the coast looked like after Camille.

"We saw a boat on the rail road tracks. We saw a tanker that had been grounded and a number of houses had been damaged," Feris said.

What he has seen in Long Beach is much more than he could have ever imagined.

"Overwhelming. Just to see that there are no houses, just slabs, piles of rubbish and the destruction. It's just overwhelming."

Feris, along with members of his church and a neighboring church, saw the reports on television and took action.

"The thought that this is helping people has been the motivation for us," fellow volunteer Steve Wilson said.

They are helping people like the Mendells of Long Beach. They say they could not have done the repairs to their home alone.

"It's overwhelming when you look at the big picture and you're handicapped and you don't know what your going to do. And insurance companies are not paying enough to have this done," Clayton Mendell said.

"I told all of them, 'I hope God blesses you more than you have blessed me.'"

The volunteer group from Pennsylvania has been here for one week. In that time they covered five different sites. The group plans to return in the fall.