Hostel Helps South MS Recovery

It's been three years since Jim Lambert and his wife visited South Mississippi. Things are a lot different than what the Wyoming couple remembers.

"It's a little overwhelming because for instance the motel building we stayed at when we were here before, the bottom floor is completely disabled," said Lambert. "We are seeing that all boarded up now. Out in the community where we visited and walked a lot so many houses are missing."

Biloxi spokesperson Vincent Creel guided the Lamberts and about two dozen others traveling with Elderhostel through the city still recovering nearly two years after Katrina.

"It's emotional for us to see some of this because way up in Montana we had no idea of some of the terrible things that are happening to people in this community, "said visitor Jim Campbell. "The emotion that these people are bringing to us brings Katrina alive to us, to what devastation was going on."

The visitors say they're learning about what Katrina did and getting a chance to make a difference.

Elderhostel representative Laurent Cadden said, "We are building houses with Habitat For Humanity. They are here for a week, and they are people from all over the country. And they come down to give of their time, and they've paid to come and do this work."

"In the last two days it's unbelievable," said Lambert. "We have raised the exterior and interior walls of two houses with another group from Maryland. So we're glad that we're able to move at that pace."

The travelers say they're glad to see the progress made so far and hope to see an even better South Mississippi the next time they're here.

Elderhostel is an international organization. The University of South Alabama in Mobile oversees the South Mississippi leg of the hostel.