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UC Students Assist Katrina Victims


A boat rests in a Biloxi resident’s yard.

Williamsburg, Ky. – When most people hear the name Mountain Outreach, they think of an organization that helps people in rural Appalachia. This stereotype was shattered as shouts of “Kentucky is here, Kentucky is here!” rose from the rubble left from Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. Twenty-two students and two staff members left Thursday, October 6, from University of the Cumberlands, bent on helping as many people as they could on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

After a 14 hour drive, the group arrived at the First Baptist Church of Biloxi, Miss. David Honeycutt, director of Mountain Outreach, said it looked as if “a bomb had gone off.” Mountain Outreach’s first assignment was to clean up a woman’s house that had been demolished by a combination of storm surge and debris. In describing the horrific scene, UC freshman Ashley Singer said, “three shrimp boats were in the woman’s yard, over a 100 yards inland, and her house had been destroyed.”


UC students mud-out a home.

After working all day Friday, much work had been done, but there was much more to do. Next on the workers’ list was to “mud-out” a retired gentleman’s home, which was surrounded by four feet of debris. “Mudding-out” a home involves removing literally everything from the home. When materials are saturated with water, mold grows rampant; and before any rebuilding can take place, all mold must be removed. Removing “all” involves discarding anything that has mold growing on it and that means everything. Once a home is cleared, a bleach mixture is sprayed to kill the mold in order for rebuilding to begin.

George Boles, a freshman at UC, likes helping people in a tangible way. He got his chance on the trip to Mississippi. “We had to take everything out of the house: clothes, furniture and personal belongings. We were picking up people’s lives,” said Boles.

Members of Mountain Outreach went to Biloxi with the intention of helping a great number of people, but the destruction was so extensive each Katrina victim needed a great amount of help. David Honeycutt said there are plans in the works to go back to the Gulf Coast over Christmas break. Before that can happen, the nature of the rebuilding must be decided by officials in Biloxi and other places like it.

“We’re playing a waiting game right now,” said Honeycutt, “but we want to go back as soon as we can.”

Mountain Outreach is a service organization based at University of the Cumberlands. Since the program's start in 1982, Mountain Outreach has constructed well over 100 homes for members of surrounding communities. The ministry also distributes donated clothing and household items for those in need. If anyone would like more information about Mountain Outreach or how to help the organization assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, contact the Mountain Outreach Office at (606) 539-4346.