A Hurricane Relief Volunteer Keeps Coming Back - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

A Hurricane Relief Volunteer Keeps Coming Back

Claude Connell is a successful entrepreneur in Fort Walton Beach Florida.  

"We build robotics and computer systems," says Connell.

But nearly every other weekend for the past year he's been building hopes and dreams in South Mississippi.  

"We sat around 4 days after the hurricane and said you know, we need to just do something. So we teamed up with St. Simon's Episcopal Church, people from my company, good friends like some of the people over here right now."  

He and his volunteers have shuttled supplies, cleared debris, and mucked out houses. And since January, he's been rebuilding Nat and Margie Ferguson home in Gulfport.  

"He just keeps coming back," says Margie. "I think he owns the house. 'It wouldn't be your cooking would it.' No, I'm not that good a cook."

Lunch is always on Margie when Claude is in town. After all, she and Nat wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Claude and his volunteers.  

"I was not going to come back," says Margie. "I was not going to do this, and if it wasn't for Claude, I wouldn't be here. I would never have done it. I couldn't afford it."

Margie now considers her 82 year old home brand new. Thanks to the man who keeps coming back and doesn't know when he'll stop.  

"The door is always open for Claude," says Margie. "Yeah, he's got a room in there. Claude can come back any time he wants to, and all the workers he's brought with him too.  

"It's open ended," says Connell. "We get a tremendous amount out of it. A lot of satisfaction. The people are just extremely nice."

by Don Culpepper

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