The first 30 minutes are the most difficult, that's when the smell, the devastation and the enormity of the task at hand will hit you. The stench is from the mold, mud, spoiled food and rot that emerges when a large volume of water enters the home. The devastation of a 20-foot storm surge resembles bomb blast with boats sitting on dry land, cars on top of cars, trees on top of houses and houses that floated down the street.

Our church sent a group of us to help the people of Biloxi, Mississippi, rebuild their community. While our work was not widely recognized, our presence provided hope and a sense that someone cared to one of Biloxi's poorest neighborhoods. The jobs we performed included helping in the church store where food and clothing was handed out, cutting up fallen trees, power washing and an enjoyable task referred to as mucking. Mucking is the systematical removal of the furniture, appliances, cabinets, walls, flooring and anything else outside of the studs and roof. In one house the water line was seven feet above the floor which was already elevated four feet above the ground. A team of seven can completely clean out and strip a house in two days; including power washing and bleaching. By having volunteers do the work, the home owner saved an estimated $75,000 when you add up all that will eventually go back into the home.

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