Published: 2006-08-29 08:07:00
Updated: 2006-11-10 09:34:32
Posted August 29, 2006
Updated November 10, 2006
BILOXI, Miss. — Church volunteers from across the country are helping people in Mississippi come home after Hurricane Katrina drove them from the Gulf Coast a year ago.
Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham's North Carolina-based nonprofit, is leading the way in Biloxi's recovery.
"We still have barely scratched the surface as far as the people we have helped and the people we want to help," said Ken Sides, a spokesman for Samaritan's Purse.
After helping with clearing storm debris, volunteers shifted to rebuilding. Samaritan's Purse has built 32 homes in Mississippi and has requests for 170 more homes. The organization has committed to keep crews in Mississippi through next June.
Victoria Beck, an 88-year-old retired teacher, lived in her Biloxi home for 54 years before Katrina destroyed it. Dozens of the 2,500 volunteers Samaritan's Purse sent to Mississippi rebuilt Beck's house and captured her heart.
"The most beautiful people that I've ever met were these volunteers," Beck said as she gazed at a picture of one of the groups who put her life back together. "I have a new house, really, now. Everything you see in here now is new because there was nothing left."
Volunteer Darrell Holden, of Wisconsin, is on his second tour of Gulf Coast states for Samaritan's Purse. After his first trip, he said he felt compelled to come back because so much more needed to be done and the government couldn't do it all.
"If that help doesn't come from somewhere, the people are just left here holding the bag," Holden said.
Katrina's destruction created an opportunity for people to come together from across the country and help one another.
"God was with them before, during and after the storm. We just want to make sure they know that," Sides said.
Beck said she now counts the Samaritan's Purse volunteers as friends, adding that they enriched her life tremendously.
"What would I say to them? Thank you. I mean, you know, they just really brought me from the bottom up to the top. Really. And I appreciate it so much," she said.