Air Force Tech. Sgt. Terry Dybdahl knows not much remains of his house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but he plans to leave Tuesday to see for himself.
The Angola native will drive a truck to bring back any of his and his children's belongings he can find but added, "We're not going down with an empty trailer."
He hopes to bring a truckload of clothes, nonperishable food, baby food, formula, diapers and other items that can help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"We'd love to help," said Michael Stockton, a Village Board member. "It's a small village. Everyone knows everyone."
Donations can be taken to the Angola Volunteer Fire Hall at 41 Commercial St. today.
Dybdahl, who graduated from Lake Shore Central High School in 1987, has served in the Air Force for 15 years, the last two at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.
When the hurricane warnings came, the single father, expecting to be away from home for only a few days, packed up some clothes for himself and his children, Logan, 7, and Hayden, 9, and drove to Atlanta, where they stayed for five days.
Since the air base was damaged by the hurricane, he has been told not to report to Keesler. Trained as a firefighter, he is eager to get to the area to help.
"It's killing me. I'm on orders telling me I can't go," he said.
When returning to their gulfside house in D'Iberville, Miss., anytime soon was ruled out, Dybdahl came home to Angola. He has been staying with his parents, Timothy and Frances, and enrolled his children in Lake Shore Central schools.
"We came back so I could put my children in school," he said.
Logan and Hayden are coping with the situation, he said.
"They're happy on outside; deep down on the inside they're sad. They lost everything," Dybdahl said.
His hometown community has responded by setting up a trust fund for his children and donating items for the hurricane victims.
Tuesday, Dybdahl and his brother Todd, the Angola fire chief, will set off for Mississippi.
"I don't care about my things. I'm safe with my children and my two dogs," he said.
Friends who stayed in the area have reported that nothing remains of his home. But he intends to salvage what he can.
Dybdahl was not sure whether or when the Air Force will send him to another base, but he knows he always has a home in Angola.