Angeles Mission College
Katrina Draws Him Back to Mississippi
Larry Avicola got
the call the day after Katrina hit.
He said everyone
(in the family) was alive but they needed help, outside help, because
the area was devastated, Avicola recalled in a recent interview.
Out of his own pocket and from private donations, Avicola recently filled two trucks with supplies, food and building materials. In mid-September, two weeks after Katrina had hit, Avicola headed east to deliver the goods. Hed seen the news coverage, and so he braced himself but nothing could prepare him for viewing the damage firsthand.
My heart just sank, he said The whole area was destroyed. It was a place where I had looked forward to retiring because of the beauty and comfort of being next to the water. The only thing to look forward to now is a big clean-up.
Avicola personally lost two homes, one in Pascagoula and the other in Ocean Springs. What matters most, he said, is that no relatives were seriously hurt. Working as a team, the relatives cleaned and repaired the two most habitable family homes where all are living for the time being.
Avicola, his brother-in-law (the battalion chief), and a few others then set about helping others in the community.
down the street and people would run out to us yelling, Help us,
please help us. It would break your heart, he said. I
wish that wed had a crew of 50 or 100 people with us because we
just didnt have the time and manpower to help everyone.
them, Hey, we can donate four hours or so to help you,
he recalled. And pretty much, in most cases, we got more than we
bargained for. In four hours, you can take out the furniture and carpeting,
tear out the soggy drywall and insulation, and help them spray the mold
with bleach. Basically, wed get the drying out process
started for them.