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Volunteers make rapid repairs

The rhythmic pop of nail guns echoed at the Harvest Worship Center.

BY HEATHER MOYER | GAUTIER, Miss. | September 28, 2005

"We've got 65 volunteers down here right now in Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, and Gulfport."

—Stan Tribble

The rhythmic pop of nail guns echoed early Tuesday morning at the Harvest Worship Center.

For the Rev. Travis Taylor, that noise is music to his ears. His church was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina several weeks ago.

"The roof ripped off and we had 14 inches of water inside," he said, pausing by his truck. "We lost our carpet, all our sound equipment, our nursery and more." Out in the church's driveway sat a pile of the soggy church belongings.

But Tuesday morning saw a legion of volunteers from the Church of God's Men and Women in Action (MWOA) disaster relief program walking on the church roof. Piles of shingles were being moved around and nail guns were working feverishly.

Taylor said he and the church were thrilled to have the outside help - especially in such hot weather. "It's wonderful," he said.

Stan Tribble, the coordinator of the volunteer site for MWOA, took a moment in the shade to wipe his brow. "You have to be ready to work in weather like this," he said. "Not anyone can stand heat like this."

But it's the kind of work that MWOA is used to, he said. The agency places volunteer teams all over the world, and Tribble said the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina is yet another place they knew they'd be needed. "We've got 65 volunteers down here right now in Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, and Gulfport," he explained. "We'll help anyone who needs the help."

That shows in the MWOA work teams' "completed" list. Tribble said they've helped several different denominations, as well as individual families who ask. Sometimes the work finds them.

"We were in Lowe's buying supplies when a lady approached us," explained Tribble. "She saw our shirts and asked for help. She's an elderly widow with no family, so no one had been helping her."

The request was all it took, and Tribble said they had a team out at her home that afternoon ripping out soggy drywall and flooring.

For the members of Taylor's church, that kind of help will be needed for years. They had worked on the church themselves for two weeks before damage to their own homes became overwhelming. Seven members lost their homes and many more suffered significant damage. Taylor said the members have been supporting each other as they can, but more help will be needed.

The church itself still needs major work, he added, noting that new doors, tile, carpet, and paint must all be done at some point.

"The emotional and spiritual needs will be long and drawn out," Taylor said. "That's why we need to open our church again. This is the house of God - it's a refuge."

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