Sunday, February 18, 2007

February 17-18 They Have Arrived

Ten adventurous folks left East Aurora at 5:05 PM on Friday and my son, Ben "texted" me Saturday morning at 10:52 with the simple message "In Mississippi". The Pathways team, which includes Linda Ramsey, Abby Panza, Frank Cerney, Mark Brindamour, Kyle Casali, Greg Casali, Frieder Hummes, Casey Jones, Joel Murphy and Ben Nieman drove straight through.

Truthfully, the team went right through Mississippi and on into New Orleans, Louisiana for a quick tour before heading to Gulfport.

On the entire trip down they stopped only one time for a meal, and that was breakfast in Birmingham, Alabama at the "Awful Waffle House". They'll have to tell you the story when they get back.
(I had planned to be on the road myself and heading their direction by that time, actually much earlier than that time on Saturday, but was in my office (cubical) finishing some last minute, before the vacation stuff. At 1:05 PM Saturday in Buffalo I left my office and drove until I crossed the state boarder from Alabama into Mississippi at 8:00 AM Buffalo time (7:00 Cental) Sunday. I drove straight through. Snow and icy roads from Cleveland, OH to Louisville, KY slowed me down.)

Today, Sunday, they attended , what was reported to me to be "a lively contemporary service" at the Pass Road Baptist Church in Gulfport. After church it was lunch at the Armory (Barbecue Chicken) and they were then off for an early afternoon at the local Mardi Gras parade.

In the later afternoon, I finally joined the group and we visited the three houses on which work will be accomplished on Monday. These small , humble houses so ravaged by Katrina were being restored with the help of volunteers from all over the country.

At the second house of the the three visited today, Frank and Mark walked up to the FEMA trailer awkwardly situated in the yard behind the house and a diminutive woman in her late 40's or early 50's answered the door. She led the team off the steps of the trailer into the house. And as Frank, Mark and Kyle were evaluating the work required to be accomplished on this house tomorrow, the rest of us engaged Barb in questions about the storm.

Barb said it was not the water coming up from the Gulf, but the water coming down from the sky that ruined her house. She and her daughter and son were in the house on August 29, 2005 when Katrina hit. When the wind blew the roof off her house, the drywall ceilings began to collapse in on them as the torrential rain flooded the structure from above.

After the storm, a friend of Barb's mentioned she should go down to the Pass Road Baptist Church and fill out the necessary forms to apply for a relief program. Obviously her application was accepted as volunteers have been working on her house for 4 months now and Pathways will be doing some finishing touches. So the end of trailer living is nearing for Barb and her family.

From the last house, where small roof repair is required, the team headed to the "Armory" on 17Th Street for the evening meal.

The deepest impression left with me from today is the thought, it has been a year and a half since Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast, and no matter where you look, you can still see signs of the tremendous devastation that happened here.

Go to this link to see photographs from today

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