Sunday, September 4th, 2005
Early Sunday morning, the team reached Mt. Vernon and picked up relief materials collected by Brenda. The only item left to complete their load was gasoline cans – and as they found out, they would have been better off buying them earlier. Stores had run out of 5 gallon and larger cans in Memphis and even further north in Arkansas. The southernmost point for getting any was Missouri. So they got off the main road and, with the help of some locals, found a Mom-and-Pop store with cans and barrels in stock. Further down the road, another hitch: they found out that the barrels were not certified to carry diesel! Dr. Stacey, who was in Jackson to escort them further south, agreed to arrange for diesel, so they loaded the cans with gasoline and headed on.
In Jackson, they met Dr. Stacey and Jeffrey Stolworth, a parish minister from Gulfport, MS. Though gas was being rationed in Jackson, they were able to fill up as an emergency vehicle through Jeffrey's intervention. They reached the Biloxi-Gulfport area late Sunday night. Nighttime curfew is being imposed all along this stretch, so they stayed indoors (and hopefully got some sleep).
By Monday morning, they unloaded half their supplies at the Main Street Missionary Baptist Church. This church was serving as a distribution point for the neighboring areas. Most houses in the Gulfport-Biloxi area have lost their roofs, though the structures are still standing. Tarps brought in are being used as makeshift roofs.
The church has asked our team to purchase nails and 2x4s etc. as well as washtubs and other vessels for use in their kitchen. It was decided to go to Jackson for that. In the meantime, Diana and I separately had been making enquiries about Camp Sister Spirit:
and the condition of it and its members. Since it was more remote, it was highly likely that relief had not reached. From Pat in Georgia and James in California, I found out that the founders and members were OK, but thery had suffered water damage and almost 200 trees had been downed by the storm.
Though it was pretty late by the time the team finished their work in Biloxi, they decided to head to the Sister Spirit camp. Maybe because they were exhausted or because the directions were bad or since it was so late, they lost their way and decided to go to sleep in their trucks somewhere close to Hattiesburg.