Katrina Log

I drove down to Biloxi with another volunteer from New England to help out with disaster relief through HandsOn USA. This is a grass roots organization with no red tape that helps out on the ground. They were here 3 days after the storm and have set up a base at a church conference center. (The Red Cross just showed up last week.) There are 60 or more volunteers here right now and more arriving. We have a place to sleep indoors, a mess hall, showers, and tools. We even have internet access and David Becker loaned me a laptop to bring along.

There are volunteers from all over the country, especially from New England and New York.

The first project of the organization was to help clear trees, brush, etc., for the police and fire people in Biloxi and Gulfport. They've been working 18 hours a day seven days a week without being able to take care of their own places.

If you know anyone who wants to come down, give me a shout. ( vacation@maplegreen.com -- this is the only email address I am monitoring while here.) There's plenty to be done here and it's very rewarding. If you can't come and want to make a donation, see www.HandsOnUSA.org.

Arrived Wednesday, October 5

Here I am just outside Biloxi. Guess who's already here!

The first day, I worked with a cleanup crew. The police officers' homes have pretty much been taken care of now, so the focus now is on helping people who need to make space for a FEMA mobile home in their yard.

FEMA won't deliver unless there's a cleared space and electricity available.

Some of the people are elderly or disabled or otherwise unable to clear up their property.

While we were finishing up one work request, a one-legged guy in a car stopped to ask for our help. He'd been trying for days to clear the downed trees and debris by himself. He had ridden out the storm in his house only blocks from the sea. There was a storm surge that washed over the land and joined up with the back bay behind Biloxi and flooded the houses for almost a week. The guy had taken refuge in his attic with his dog and had to stay there four days until the water receded.

There was a small church on this site nearby. It's gone now but they saved a few chairs to have services outside.

We've seen houses floated off their foundations, cars in trees, cars under houses, all all sorts of things.