The aftermath is all too familiar to south Mississippians: downed trees and power lines, shingles and siding stripped from homes, debris littering the streets, days without electricity — to say nothing of the frayed nerves. When Hurricane Zeta barreled into the Gulf Coast on Oct. 28, a pandemic and hurricane-weary region weathered another blow.
But greatness tends to follow disaster — and Zeta is no exception. Meet some of the locals who proved that no force is stronger than the human spirit.
Director, 100 Men Hall
The 100 Men Hall, a Bay St. Louis landmark, sustained severe roof damage in Zeta, and The Tin Shed, a structure that hosts an artist in residence, also required repairs. Dangermond worked to raise awareness of and funding for the project.
“I’ve been through enough crisis in my life, so the first thing that went through my mind after seeing the damage was, ‘It could have been worse,’ she says. “I also look for silver linings because there are always silver linings.
“The first silver lining was seeing the outpouring of support and love from friends and the community, and even from strangers in other countries. This was a gentle reminder that the 100 Men Hall, a rare African-American landmark and one of the few physical buildings standing on the Mississippi Blues Trail, matters — and the work we are doing to preserve and maintain it is supported by many.”
To donate to the 100 Men Hall roof-raising fund, visit https://the100menhall. com/products/donate, contribute via PayPal (100MenHall@gmail.com), contribute via Venmo (Rachel-Dangermond) or mail a check to 100 Men Hall, 303 Union St., Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520.
Founder, Comeback Coolers
Heather Eason established Comeback Coolers in Ocean Springs, but ironically, Zeta was its first mission in Mississippi. After the storm, the organization coordinated a quick mission and delivered about 90 coolers, supplies for 100 linemen and about 75 kids’ coolers. Most of the supplies were delivered in Gulfport, Long Beach and Pass Christian.
“It was nice to be able to help in a local way and the people were kind, hard-working, and appreciative,” Eason says.
After seeing the damage, she adds, “we realized the true implications of the storm — and the resilience of our neighbors.”
“One thing we noticed during this mission was the many children who were helping with cleanup,” she says. “Every child we saw got their own kids’ Comeback Cooler. One child even exclaimed, ‘Hard work really does pay off!’ That was one of the many highlights of the day.”
Support or learn more about Comeback Coolers at https://www.comebackcoolers. com.
REP. SONYA WILLIAMS BARNES
Mississippi House of Representatives, 119th District
Zeta hit days before a significant election, but that didn’t deter state Rep. Barnes from springing into action. She managed to feed a hot meal to her community, get people to vote on the last day of absentee voting and distribute tarps and water with her friend, U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy.
“I would not have it any other way other than serving House District 119,” she told her Facebook followers on Nov. 1. “A long, hot bath would have been how I would end a day like this, but without power, a quick, cold shower would suffice!”
Retired from federal government (U.S. Department of Defense, Navy, Ingalls Shipbuilding), volunteer
Northwood Church has a number of SERVE volunteer groups, and Tims has led and participated in many efforts at the Women’s Resource Center and elsewhere. When Zeta blew shingles and siding off of a WRC storage building, Tims stepped forward to help repair and replace them.
If you take the time to stop and ask, Tims says, it doesn’t take long to find someone seeking help. There are many needs out there, he adds — “and so I just go.”
“I have prayed many times to have the eyes of compassion of our Lord and the hands and feet to do something about it,” Tims says. “If I sit in the easy chair, nothing gets done, and we miss out on a lot of blessings.”
JAMES EDWARD BATES
Owner of James Edward Bates Photography, volunteer with The Giving BAK Foundation
Giving BAK’s primary mission is to partner with churches or other Christian organizations in the wake of disasters, according to Bates, and volunteers often start serving food less than 24 hours following an event. After Zeta, he says, the nonprofit provided hot meals for first responders from Feed My Sheep’s Gulfport location, including smoked chicken and pulled pork.
The BAK in Giving BAK Foundation stands for “Build A Kingdom,” and Bates says for members, “It’s about loving our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ in their greatest times of need.”
“We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus and help churches in disaster zones help their local community,” he says. “God directs us to love our neighbors. We think providing delicious, hot meals is a pretty good way to do that. We could not have done this without local community support.”
To support Giving BAK or learn more, visit www.GivingBAK.org.