Out-Of-Town Volunteers Help Vietnamese Rebuild

June 13, 2006

"A lot of families have been displaced, and they're still standing strong, trying to rebuild," says Gai Kaitlin Truong.

Truong no longer lives in east Biloxi. Her home was one of many in the Oak Street area destroyed by Katrina, but she joined dozens of volunteers from the Dallas-based Vietnamese Professional Society to help clean up her old neighborhood.

"This is a high traffic area for the Vietnamese Community. You've got the temple and the church, and a lot of businesses at the corner of Oak and Howard, so we thought it would be a good place to sort of draw attention to the community. And, encourage it to rebuild, and also say there are people from out of town flying in solidarity in their plight down here," says Uyen Leof the National Alliance of Vietnamese-American Services Agencies.

Even nine months after the storm, there's still a lot of debris to clean up.

"They're doing what they can to get back to their lives, and we're doing what we can in this respect to continue that support because most of the time when you see a disaster, there is a huge outpouring; then it stops. Life goes on, you don't know what happens after, and that's why we're here to continue that assistance," says Vanessa Phan of the Vietnamese Professional Society.

And the work won't end on Oak Street.

"We're going to do some sheetrock pulling for some local business owners, as well as their homes, because that's one of the hardest things," Phan says.

As for Gai Kaitlin Truong, she hopes her family will one day be able to move back to the home where she was raised. With help like this they're one step closer to doing just that.

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