Earlier this year I posted a number of pictures from my trip to Waveland/Bay St Louis, Mississippi. Among them was a particularly striking scene of a tent pitched in the wreckage of a deserted home smashed by hurricane Katrina in 2005. As you might imagine there is something of a story behind the person who pitched that tent. I recently learned a small part of that story and I wanted to post about it so as to give that picture the background it deserves.

I never met the person who pitched the blue dome tent in the shell of a house on Paradise Street in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. “Home sweet home” read a painted sign nailed to the wooden frame of the house that had been ravaged by hurricane Katrina back in 2005. It seemed like a strange place to pitch a tent, but since Katrina had swept through this area causing destruction almost beyond comprehension, for those who lived here the meaning of home had been well and truly redefined.

The tent was home (sweet home) to Munson Voda, a man with a unique name and an adventurous spirit. Like many, Voda had travelled to the area to help relatives clean-up and rebuild their lives in the wake of the storm. But unlike the average volunteer Voda had made the 1,100 mile journey from his home in Wisconsin by kayak along the Mississippi River, a truly remarkable feat of commitment and endurance.

In the early hours of Saturday, October 20th, while walking home from a restaurant, Voda was apparently struck by a vehicle on Paradise Street just 100 yards from his makeshift home. He died as a result of the injuries he sustained.

The unlit road is surrounded by pine forest and according to acting Bay St. Louis Police Chief, Tom Burleson, the person that hit Voda may not have even seen him and could well have thought they had struck an animal. As yet nobody has come forward with any information about the incident which Police are calling an accident.

I wanted to post this because Munson Voda sounds like he would have been an interesting guy. Anyone who would kayak from Wisconsin to south Mississippi to help others surely has a few stories to tell, and while Munson himself can’t tell us his stories now, I didn’t want something of the tale of that blue tent, and the man who pitched it, to go untold.

Rest in Peace Munson.

[Thank you to Susan for seeing this in her local paper and bringing it to my attention]

The Return to Waveland
A town called Waveland
Mission to the town that vanished