Overview of trip:
Well we are back! Two long 1,222 mile drives sandwiched what was a very successful trip! We worked with Randy’s Rangers in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Pass Christian is a small town (pre Katrina population of about 6,000) that was near where the storm came ashore. The destruction was catastrophic: of about 2400 homes pre storm, only 429 were livable after the storm and even sixteen months later only about 800 homes are habitable. So there is much rebuilding to be done.
Randy and Deb are the leaders of Randy’s Rangers. They have been on the scene in some capacity from early September 2005. Both began their Pass Christian existence working at the life-saving distribution centers that gave food and water in the weeks after the storm. Their work, and lives, have evolved since when they joined forces (both at Randy’s Rangers and in life as they also married). As many volunteer agencies ran out of steam and volunteers Randy’s Rangers operated in and around Pass Christian out of a primitive tent camp on the site of the destroyed elementary school on Second Street.
As clean-up around the town evolved into rebuilding, the town decided it was time to rebuild their school grounds. This forced Randy’s Rangers to move from their Camp Commode to new larger grounds on the site of a former apartment building on Lak Bleu Street. Mainly using tents and lumber salvaged from a the former FEMA tent village on Espy Road, the Rangers had started the new facility but it was not really ready for a large group of volunteers when we arrived late on January 3.
For the next eight days BonaResponders along with smaller numbers of volunteers from various American Baptist groups and a handful of Americorps volunteers (for a day) helped build, roof, and finish a laundry building, built a building to house tools, painted a new dining facility, connected the kitchen and dining rooms, dug and filled ditches to lay sewer and electric lines across campus, helped lay out RV hook-ups, and cleaned debris from the site. As this was done, the site grew into a usable home for future volunteers.
In addition to this on site work, teams went out help local residents. This work included building shingling a roof, walking dogs for a woman who was too sick to do so herself, painting the interior of a home to allow a woman to move out of her FEMA trailer and back into a house, and building a porch for an gentleman whose house was destroyed.
Overall the trip was a huge success and laid out the beginnings of a new relationship between BonaResponds and Pass Christian and Randy’s Rangers. Many more details will be forthcoming! Stay Tuned!!