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Stennis Sailors Continue Katrina Relief Efforts in Mississippi

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051020-19
Release Date: 10/20/2005 3:42:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Gabriel Owens, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NNS) -- Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) passed out food, clothing and other much-needed supplies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Bay St. Louis, Miss., Oct. 18.

Stennis, homeported in Bremerton, Wash., sent 50 volunteers to the hurricane-ravaged area of southern Mississippi. The aircraft carrier is named for former Sen. John C. Stennis of Mississippi and is working in conjunction with the Stennis Space Center to continue the disaster relief operations along the Gulf Coast.

"We take for granted the simplest things in life these people have the hardest time getting," said Chief Master-at-Arms Bill Shaibly, enlisted volunteer supervisor. "For us, getting water is as simple as turning on a faucet. For them, it can mean waiting in six-mile-long lines in their cars."

In Bay St. Louis, two local women, Tricia Myrick and Jessica Beane, started a simple project in a gutted-out shopping center by just giving out what they could salvage. Soon, the project grew beyond the scope of the personnel they had available as supplies from FEMA and others started pouring into the shopping center.

"We're extremely happy to have the Navy come out and help us like this," said Myrick. "You guys are the best."

"Once the Navy presence in the area heard about the need, they immediately contacted the Stennis volunteer crew to help out," said Cmdr. (Chaplain) Tim Overturf, Stennis chaplain and volunteer coordinator.

"With the help of FEMA and the Brett Favre foundation, we were able to assist the community with much-needed help." The Brett Favre foundation donated hundreds of pounds of food and supplies to the relief effort.

Like all the assignments this volunteer group has tackled, many Sailors have acknowledged the work being hot, tough and demanding, but well worth the effort.

"It's another job, we just buckle down and do it," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Joshua Davis, a volunteer from Stennis' air department.

From the back, boxes of supplies are sorted and stored on shelves. Less popular items are kept inside, while foodstuffs are sorted and hauled outside. In the "hot zone," where lines of cars pick up items, teams are busy creating food boxes and hauling water to the cars.

"Water is our biggest item," said Shaibly. "Food is second, and we have special items asked for every now and then from the back, like razors, personal products and baby needs."

The project is scheduled for the next several weeks. Stennis volunteers are also scheduled to provide support to the area as long as they are available.

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