Need For Volunteers Still Great In Hancock County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Need For Volunteers Still Great In Hancock County

Hancock County's volunteer coordinator says the need is greater than the supply. For the past year, thousands of volunteers from all over the country have helped Coast residents dig out and begin the long rebuilding process. However, the hardest hit folks are still looking for helping hands.

Olge White's Shoreline Park home was virtually lost at sea on August 29th.

"Water came four feet over my home, and I lost everything," said White.

The 82-year-old widow lives on a fixed income and has relied on volunteer labor to get her out of her FEMA trailer and back into her home. One group repaired the roof.

"Then another church helped me by hanging the sheet rock."

With about half of the sheet rock done, White is at a standstill.

"They say they can't get no volunteers now. Whenever they get any, they will try to help us," White said. 

Hancock County's volunteer coordinator, Kathleen Johnson, believes the Mississippi Gulf Coast may actually be hurt by good publicity.

"I believe that people are hearing the message that we are rebuilding and we are well on the way to recovery, which is true. But we are just now starting the reconstruction as the grant money is starting to flow in," Johnson said.

She's seen the great things done by the churches, school groups and civic organizations from all across the county. But now school's back in session, it's the height of hurricane season and South Mississippi's oppressive August heat may be more than some folks can take.

"We've got others promised to come down in October and we're seeing the booking numbers increasing, but not at the rate we're going to need to rebuild the 10,000 or so damaged homes we have here in Hancock County."

The Methodist volunteer camp site on the beach in Bay St. Louis is capable of housing about a hundred volunteers. Right now, the camp is empty.

"The EOC has none. Mission of the Bay, as far as I know, have none. I have not heard of really any more, but maybe 15, in town at this time. We're probably never going to see the numbers that we've seen in the past that's a reality as long as there's not that hype on the national TV that we had during the height of this. It's just not going to happen," Johnson said.

She hopes the media attention on the anniversary will show the country how much their help is appreciated and how much it's still needed for people like Olge White.

If you'd like to learn more about volunteering in Hancock County, click here, or call Kathleen Johnson at (228) 209-8822.

by Al Showers

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