Waveland Mississippi wasn’t a town that was well known before hurricane Katrina ironically put in on the map by actually wiping it off the map!

The little town just over the border from Louisiana that started as a waterside getaway for New Orleans residents, was said to be hit the hardest by Katrina which smashed the homes of nearly all the 6700 residents to oblivion.

Even now, more than five months after the hurricane, Waveland is still is a desperate state. Virginia Republican, Tom Davis, who chairs a House panel investigating the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, said his return to the region in late January left him frustrated by the pace of debris removal and rebuilding of homes and businesses.

“We’re a country that can put a man on the moon, that can send a ship out to Pluto and can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to bring democracy to Baghdad. Why is it taking so long here?” He said.

BBC news blogger in the region, Rhonda Buie, shared the same sentiments. As she drove along the main road through Waveland she was struck by the apparent lack of reconstruction. “Along the way there is wreckage, fragments of clothes in trees and on the side of the road and piles of debris. Some businesses are operating out of tents. The houses along this route are all gone.” She writes. “Much of the wreckage still lies where it settled after the storm, five months ago.”

When I first saw the pictures of the devastation caused by Katrina I wanted to get on a plane and get over there. it wasn’t ‘hero syndrome’ just an overwhelming sense of compassion for the people affected. But aid was pouring in at the time to such a degree that my being there really wouldn’t have helped.

As with 9/11, this was a disaster that affected me because America is close to my heart. It’s been my home from home for years. Back in 1992, when my life was really out of control, it was the kindness of two Americans that really changed the direction of my life. Though youth pastor Rick had only met me briefly while he was in the UK, for some reason he invited me to go and live with him and his wife and their friend Kevin who all shared a house in California. That invitation had a profound affect on my life. It could not have come at a more crucial or better timed moment.

I suppose it’s because I feel that America saved my life in some respects, that I feel so strongly about the country and the people who live there. So for me to come to America and help those affected by hurricane Katrina is a small repayment of a debt I feel I owe.

It’s no big deal of course, but today I excited to learn that I have been confirmed on a ‘aid mission’ to Waveland in April. The trip is being organized by an Episcopal church just north of Boston attended by my friend Anne. She knew I was itching to get out there to help and when she heard the church was looking for ten volunteers to go to Waveland to help the residents rebuild, she asked if I could be considered.

The trip isn’t as long as I might have wished for. Just 7 days as I understand it. But who knows what we might be able to achieve in that time. And maybe when I’m there I might be able to find other ways of helping? Right now I’m just excited at the opportunity to finally get my hands dirty and help. And from what I’ve heard, hands dirty really will be the order of the day.

Waveland : The town that vanished
Waveland to wasteland.
A beacon of hope in Waveland
BBC news blogger, Rhonda Buie
Residents wonder how Miss. coast will redevelop