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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Clay City students assist in post-Katrina construction

Friday, April 25, 2008

Levi Seymour and Kyler Rhodes work on the beginning of a home in Waveland, Miss. They traveled to the Gulf Coast as part of the Clay City High School Bible Club mission trip recently. Courtesy Photo.
"You felt bad leaving, when there is still so much work to be done," Clay City High School Bible Club sponsor Susan Rhodes said.

Rhodes led a group of 61 students and adults to the Gulf Coast over spring break to assist in the clean up and reconstruction of communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Students re-roofed homes, landscaped a volunteer center, prepared final touches for homeowners to move back in and did anything they could to get area families back on their feet.

Kyler Rhodes said the best part about the trip was seeing the people's faces when a job was completed.

Some students who had gone on previous years' trips were able to go back to work sites and see completed homes.

Others worked on the framing of new homes and the beginnings of a new life for a family. Susan Rhodes said for every house that is back in livable condition, there are three surrounding it that are abandoned.

The Bible Club group wore t-shirts commemorating their trip, and when local people would see the shirts, they would approach the volunteers to thank them for their help.

When Tessy Hoag went to the Gulf Coast on her first mission trip in the fall 2006, she saw a brand new Taco Bell with nothing around it, and thought it was strange.

On this year's trip, businesses were surrounding the same restaurant.

"It was great to see businesses there, and see people have money to spend on businesses," Hoag said.

The students' lives also changed on the trip. Mardi Steiner said the trip "makes you more grateful for what you have."

Although there is clean up still needing to be done, most of the work required skilled labor. Students enjoyed learning new skills, and adults leading the volunteer effort enjoyed teaching their specialties.

"I definitely want to go back," said Ashley Seymour, and volunteers like Seymour are still needed in the area.

Rhodes said the Gulf communities are worried that people are forgetting about the area, even though there is still much work to be done.

The spring break trip was not all work for the group, though. Several surprises made the trip very memorable.

A beach crawfish dinner was a new experience for most of the travelers. Although the crustacean did not make everyone's favorite food list, most did try the local staple.

One evening, a "No Talent Show" entertained the group, with acts including hip-hop nursery rhymes, "The 16 Days of Mission Trip" sung to "The 12 Days of Christmas," and a skit depicting the emotions involved in roofing a house when one is afraid of heights.

In another surprise, local East Coast Hockey League team Mississippi Seawolves invited the group to a late-season game and honored the volunteers for their work.

When asked what is most needed in the clean up and reconstruction effort, the group had sufficient funds from community donations and willing workers. What they needed was more time.

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