Nearly two and a half months since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the heart of McDuffie County residents continues to reach out to those still suffering from the lingering affects of the storm.
Recently, two local churches came across opportunities to help in the rebuilding effort. Marshall Baptist has adopted a church in Moss Point, Miss., and Thomson First United Methodist Church sent a team of six to Ocean Springs, Miss.
According to FUMC's team leader Harold Ward, the group stayed in a tent city at night and worked on the Red Cross building in Pascagoula, Miss. and homes affected by the flood during the day.
Mr. Ward was elected team leader for his prior disaster relief experience. This was his second trip to the area after going in late September with a group from Thomson First Baptist Church.
"We worked on (the Red Cross building) for a couple of days, and then we cleaned out a house back in Ocean Springs for a woman," Mr. Ward said. "So we worked in different places, but the first job was right back in Pascagoula."
Staying in the tent city were 200 volunteers who tore out sheetrock and wood in homes hit by the storm surge. The volunteer group that FUMC hooked up with started when two churches in Houston sent $100,000 to the coast and settled on land next to St. Paul Methodist Church in Ocean Springs.
"It was just right to set up the tents," Mr. Ward said. "They went in with this church, and they let them use their facilities for feeding and everything."
FUMC will send more teams to the same place in the coming months, where all the tools needed for working on houses can be checked out of a tractor trailer for each day's work. The tent city will welcome volunteers from around the country for about a year.
In late October, Marshall Baptist found out about three people with critical needs connected to Midway Baptist Church in Moss Point after registering on the North American Mission Board website.
According to Marshal Pastor John Prater, a mission group in the church was looking for a "God-sized" task to tackle. He said the most urgent need on the coast will take $20,000 and three teams of eight people to fix the house of a cancer patient who is unable to hang sheetrock or paint.
"His house had a lot of damage to it," Dr. Prater said. "‚Ä¶He needs everything."
Currently, Marshall is awaiting donations to help with the projects and recruiting volunteers from the congregation to make the trip. A group has already visited to assess the situation, and they hope to send a team this week.
"The need is still real critical," Dr. Prater said. "I think everybody thinks 'Well they ought to be back to normal by now.' But they're not."
Donations to help with the project can be sent to 436 Marshall Church Road in Thomson.