Real "Saints" Fixing Homes In Hurricane Battered Mississippi - - The News for South Mississippi

Real "Saints" Fixing Homes In Hurricane Battered Mississippi

Despite construction noise echoing off the glistening Mississippi Sound, the Pass Christian/Long Beach border looks very lonely, and very desolate. Tom Smith sees it every time he drives down from Brookhaven and helps his son rebuild his home.

"It's unbelievable," said Smith. "Pictures, they don't take it for granted until you ride this beach down through here and look. And when you do, you know it's real."

And the Smith family lives with that reality everyday, while it waits for its Pass Christian home to be rebuilt. It's interesting to note that on a recent trip to Seattle, Mr. Smith was surprised to hear how many people linked Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans and not to the devastation that is so prevalent along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"We told them, said, 'Well it hit Mississippi, too.' They said, "It done what? We didn't know it hit Mississippi.'"

Fortunately, there are still volunteers rushing to Mississippi on a weekly basis. Mike McCoy is benefiting from a Canadian group's visit to Pass Christian.

"It's a great feeling," the Gulfport fireman said. "It's a true brotherhood and that means a lot."

The construction team at McCoy's house was made up of firefighters and police officers from Calgary, Alberta Canada. They gave up two weeks of their lives to rebuild McCoy's home.

"I'm here because it's the right thing to do," said Ada Casello, one of the volunteers on the trip. "Even though this has been cleaned up, there are still some traces that are just unreal, unreal. It's like an explosion."

But thanks to the efforts of volunteers and contractors, remnants of the August 29, 2005 explosion that ripped through south Mississippi are slowly being swept away, with or without the national media's spotlight.

"I'm proud of it," Mr. Smith said while standing next to a garage that was being rebuilt. "It's going to take time. But we're coming back."

According to FEMA, nearly 45 million cubic yards of hurricane debris have been hauled off Mississippi properties since the hurricane. Another 19,242 cubic yards of marine debris has been cleared by the Coast Guard. And there are still 35,000 Mississippians living in FEMA trailers.

by Brad Kessie

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