Virginia Volunteers Help Clean Out Bayou - - The News for South Mississippi

Virginia Volunteers Help Clean Out Bayou

Volunteers carried another piece of something-or-other out of the bayou off Lovers' Lane in Ocean Springs. There's no shortage of stuff scattered about the marshland.

While one team worked to dismantle pieces of a piano, another group tried to dislodge a stubborn piece of debris.

"We found broken TVs, videos, clothing. Clothing still on hangars. Baby dolls up in trees. Sleeping bags. Anything you can imagine," said volunteer Chris Harden.

"Break it Kate," shouted one teen to another, as she tried to remove something from a tree.

One group worked to retrieve part of an exercise machine, while another tackled the sliding glass door frame stuck in a tree.

It's a strenuous task in the mid summer heat.

"Popsicles! It's a true ministry," cried a straw hatted lady with a bag of frozen treats.

The popsicles provide welcome relief.

Grace Ahern was having troubles adjusting to the South Mississippi summer.

"It is hot out here. I think I've sweated off about five pounds. We are just clearing all the debris from this house that was here. And it's just everywhere. We started back here and every day we've been working further back into the woods," she said, wiping sweat from her forehead.

The "swamp monsters" emerged from the marsh with another load of wood. It's a constant cycle of finding, carrying and depositing.

The volunteers are pulling more than just junk and debris from the woods and marshland. They've also managed to salvage a number of personal belongings, some of which have already been claimed by area neighbors.

"Everyone is just so thankful and appreciative. People who lived in some of these homes that are gone have come and gone through some of the things. And it's just been very emotional for us," said team leader Beth Crow.

It can be emotional at times, but tiring and rewarding.

"You give them a challenge and they want to take it," said Crow.

St. John's Episcopal Church in Ocean Springs is hosting the work team. Along with the volunteer labor, the group raised $11,000 to help the local church with Katrina recovery.

By Steve Phillips

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