Volunteers Keep Rebuilding As Millions Is Awarded To Mississippi

The U.S. Department of Housing and Development announced Tuesday that it will give $27 million to five Mississippi housing agencies. The money will be used to repair public housing units Hurricane Katrina damaged.

HUD announced the funding in Long Beach, where dozens of volunteers are replacing roofs on several of the units. They are calling it a "Roofing Blitz." This week, dozens of workers from state and national agencies traded in their suits for work boots to help rebuild the Coast.

Evelyn Brown, Senior Vice President of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, says she knows first hand about helping families in need.

"What's special about this is that many of us do this for a living, and you write a check, or you sit in an office and you do things, but to actually get out and do something and at the end of the day you look and say, 'I really accomplished something,'" says Brown.

LISC along with other agencies like Fannie Mae and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials or NAHRO, will work throughout the week to repair 13 roofs that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It's an effort, volunteers say, they are proud to be a part of.

"Working on something and the strategy and the thinking about resources is different from getting on the ground and doing the work. The area is not going to rebuild until people are able to live here," says Stacy Birenback with LISC.

As a thank you to volunteers and to support rebuilding efforts in Long Beach, HUD's Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera presented a check for $96,000 to the Long Beach Public Housing Authority. Cabrera says it's the least the group can do for a group of people who are working so hard.

"What you are watching here are people committed to running the marathon. Recovery is not a sprint. Recovery is a marathon. It's going to take some time. We can't focus on the time, we have to focus on the effort," says Cabrera.

Cabrera says the money will be used to rebuild housing, cover insurance costs and replace damaged water and sewer lines. Once repairs are complete, it is expected that new residents will move in, since the residents who lived there during Katrina have moved elsewhere.