Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More thoughts on Katrina and the Gulf Coast

This was the first trip I made with a team from the Roanoke district to Gulfport. We were there the second week after Katrina hit. We were sent to a Baptist Church in Pascagoula to work in its Child Care Facility. The Exxon company was doing everything they could to make it possible for their workers to come back and be able to come with their families. So one of the things they were doing was cleaning up, repairing, rebuilding the Child Care Facilities their workers used so they would have a place for the kids to go to while they worked. They spared no expense, if we said we needed something to do a job they got it.
The church had been flooded, the Sanctuary, class rooms, and parsonage was ruined. We cloroxed the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, nooks and crannies, and yes, even ourselves. We scraped up whatever needed to be scraped up, tore out whatever we had to be torn out, built some things for them, and then we cloroxed everything again. We worked with a team of Exxon employees who they themselves had lost their homes and were living with relatives. We prayed with each other, cried with each other and laughed together. At the time all the focus was on New Orleans, and what was going on there. The people we met and worked with felt forgotten, but also felt like they would make it. I had made a vacation trip to the Gulfport area of Miss, a couple of years before. It was hard to see the places we had gone to and torued, just wiped away or badly damaged. But it was so rewarding, and inspiring to go and help. After this trip, more members of my church who had hardly done anything like that before made several trips themselves on disaster relief teams. There is still much work to do, but it is possible to do it. And it is a long period of recovery. If you have not gone, pray about it, and go. There were volunteers from ages 12 on up to 85. Don't let your age stop you. There were volunteers with disabilities and some health problems but they found a way to be helpful and work.

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