About two dozen northwest Iowans will spend part of their Christmas break working to rebuild homes — and lives — ruined by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dave Nonnemacher, Northwestern College’s director of service learning, says one 12-member team from the Orange City institution is headed to Jackson, Mississippi, while the other team is going to New Orleans’ 14th Ward.
Nonnemacher says 12 faculty, students and staff will be part of continuing efforts to rebuild New Orleans because "there are still many, many houses that have not been renovated and some of them are even in the state that they were when the hurricane left New Orleans." He’s part of the team going to Jackson, adding, it’ll be the third Christmas in a row Northwestern College has sent teams to the still-reeling Gulf Coast. Nonnemacher says most of the work ahead will be manual labor.
He says they’ll be working on chores like drywall, clean-up and mold prevention, many of the same things they’ve been doing for the past few years: "There’s small steps being taken. There’s still a lot of people in FEMA trailers."
Nearly 100,000 people are still living in goverment-issue trailers just in the southern six counties of Mississippi, which lost some 66-thousand homes when Katrina struck in September of 2005. Nonnemacher says this mission trip is a great opportunity for Northwestern students to serve with their hands and hearts.
Nonnemacher says: "Our students will do hands-on tasks but also, they’ll get a much bigger picture of how we respond to the needs that we see and the needs that are very apparent." The teams from Northwestern are slated to be on the Gulf Coast from December 15th through the 22nd.