Monday, February 13, 2006


CHS ’54 Classmate among the first to provide aid to Katrina victims in the Mississippi Gulf Region.

The following is a first person experience of Classmate Linda Garmon Huggins who was a part of one of the first teams to go to the aid of Katrina victims. Linda went to Ocean Springs, MS along with members of her church in Florence, SC.

As related to Sam Salamander by Linda Garmon

We went to Ocean Springs, MS and received blessings beyond measure. I cannot say enough about the generosity of the folks at Ocean Springs UMS. They served three hot meals a day, provided hot showers and gave us assignments each morning after a worship service. We slept in tents from Russia and China. The Canadian front came down that way for a week, and we slept in 35 degree weather with the wind blowing through the flaps of our tents.

We painted every room in one house and cleaned two others. Cleaning the mold and mildew with bleach and water, ripping out sheetrock, hardwood and tile.

One owner had temporarily moved to Greenwood, TN with his family and came back to work alongside our team. He was such a grateful man. We gave Bibles inscribed to each person who helped. This man cried and was overwhelmed.

The owners of the house we painted were a young couple who had lost their home in the storm and had just gotten another small one only to have the painter walk off the job. The husband of the couple was a college student and his wife was trying to work and oversee the projects. They were so happy that she made a generous contribution to the mission effort at St. Paul UMC in Ocean Springs.

The devastation was unbelievable. The bridge from Ocean Sprints to Biloxi literally came apart in the storm. It looked like a roller coaster stretching across the water. Army personnel patrolled the area and offered technical information we wouldn’t have received elsewhere. I can’t imagine when there area will be livable for all inhabitants.

The third family we helped included three children and their parents. They were living in a FEMA trailer on their property which abutted the bayou. Their dining room table and chairs floated to the second floor of their home. The children were full of joy and seemly unscathed because they were together as a family. Three high school coaches in the area lost everything they had, so we gave the money to buy some things. Many folks sent money with some of our team members and it was nice to be able to respond to a monetary need.

We realize that we were, what was to become, a steady stream of volunteers from across the United States. Volunteerism is uniquely American. We are truly blessed to live in this wonderful country of ours.

Great job, Linda!

Another example of CHS54 grads volunteering for front line duty in the midst of a crisis. As reported on these pages earlier, Obie Oakley and other veterans of CO B. 20th Special Forces Group also went to the Hurricane ravaged area and helped to bring it back to life. (See Archives, "Here Comes the Cavalvry")

More proof that CHS54 grads are VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE!

As A Sidenote....

Nancy Hartis Byers lives in Gautier, Mississippi which is right on the Gulf, Nancy escaped serious damage from Katrina. Fortunately, she was able to move inland a few miles and ride out the storm with her daughter. When Obie was in nearby Vancleave, MS with his former special forces buddies for a week working on Katrina relief, he gave his old fifth grade sweetheart a call and the two of them went to dinner. Both agree, it was a delightful evening.