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South Georgians help with hurricane recovery

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November 17, 2005

Pascagoula, MS-- Lisa Buckner's house is a noisy place.  But it's not filled with the typical sounds of cooking in the kitchen-- it's hard even to tell where the kitchen used to be-- or of family conversastions-- though as many as 15 family members lived on the second floor of the house in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina. 

On this day, the noise comes from hammers and saws and tape measures.  These are the sounds of service. The sounds of a dozen volunteers from Albany's First United Methodist hard at work in Pascagoula, Mississippi. As she sweeps up debris in the dining room, one of those volunteers, Ann Voss, says "I think all of us have missions in life, and I think one of my missions is to help other people."

Voss proves it's never too late to discover that calling. "I thought maybe I was too old, but you never get too old." Voss is 75 and on her sixth mission trip. "Sometimes I help in the kitchen, sometimes I help with the clean up like this. There's always lots of cleaning up to do," she said.

This trip, she's working on the Buckner home. "I wasn't expecting what we got," Lisa Buckner said. What she got was four feet of flood water that ruined the first floor of her house. Now, she's got a house full of volunteers. "I expected to see a couple of people, but man they brought a whole crew in here women, men and they're just going to town in there."

Despite the mess, the Buckners say they're lucky. Here's one sign. Lisa has a collection of ceramic angles in a small cabinet that was in her living room when rushing floodwaters upended or slammed around every other piece of furniture in the room. Not a single angel was damaged. "We have a lot to be thankful for," she said.

She's also thankful for the south Georgia work team helping her put her home back together. "We're gonna get you back in this house," volunteer Felix Marbury told her. Many of the volunteers have seen this kind of damage before. "This area in here reminds me of Albany in 94," Marbury said.  He didn't hesitate to help. "I seen that we could make a difference helping these people, and I just felt like we ought to come."

And when the next catastrophe strikes, and neighborhoods in another disaster zone are filled with the sounds of service, Ann Voss will be there, too, to offer a helping hand. "I'll probably be on the next van," she said. 

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