Volunteer Housing In Waveland Closing For Hurricane Season

An organization that has been a major part of the recovery process in Hancock County is closing down.

The Morrell Foundation's I-Care Village on the beach in Waveland houses volunteers that come to help residents rebuild their homes and lives. The fear is with few places for volunteers to stay, fewer will come.

"We've housed over 3500 volunteers in the time that we've been here and they have done over 125,000 hours of service to this community," I-Care Village Public Relations Director Renee Weaver said.

Last weekend's severe weather helped Morrell Foundation leaders decide to close down the operation - at least during the up coming hurricane season.

"With the weather that came in, we sustained quite a bit of damage. We had to evacuate our volunteers into the laundry facility and into the bunk houses that are in the back."

Heavy winds and rain ripped giant pieces off of the dining tent and blew the doors off of shower stalls.

"Then we also had damage on the south side of the dormitory tent. Where the front flaps were completely blown away, we sustained water damage inside. With that being able to happen, we can't afford to put volunteers in there and put them in harm's way."

The closing is already having an impact on Hancock County.

"We had to call over 1140 volunteers that were already booked to come to this area. We've given out numbers that they can still be able to be housed in this area, but we are the largest volunteer housing facility on the coast."

Weaver says the Morrell Foundation is loaning out its supplies and equipment to the handful of church groups and organizations still housing volunteers. They hope to reopen the I-Care Village in a new location after hurricane season is over.

The I-Care Village will officially close May 15th.

Hancock County's Emergency Management Director Brian Adam told WLOX NEWS, there are still three or four places housing volunteers. And the EOC Volunteer Coordinator is looking for more locations.

by Al Showers