Biloxi & Picayune Mississippi - September 2005
Last week the Otsego Plainwell Ministerial Organization, as well as some other churches and myself organized a local Hurricane Katrina relief effort. We left on Thursday evening with one car, four trucks, and a trailer filled with food, clothes, tools, and other provisions for the hurricane victims. Three trucks went to Biloxi, Mississippi, where the people have lost everything. The structures that are still standing are heavily damaged, since the entire area had been underwater. After the water receded, there was over one inch of solid sewage waste everywhere. The stench of that, combined with decaying animal carcasses, was so bad some of us got sick to our stomachs. What we saw brought tears to our eyes and we immediately started to pray for the people there. Never had any of us seen that kind of destruction and devastation. We unloaded the trucks filled with provisions into what was left of the Harvest Christian Fellowship Church, who will distribute it. Part of our group worked to help clean and pick up the refuse, then drove on to Picayune, Mississippi to meet up with the rest of the group.
Our first contingent arrived in Picayune on Friday morning and unloaded the truck at the distributions Center. For a few hours we helped distribute a day’s supple of food, water and ice to an endless line of people in cars. We brought chain saws and roofing tools to help with tree removal and the application of tarps to damaged roofs. We went to three sites and almost completely covered the roofs with the tarps, as well as removed trees and branches from both inside and on top of people’s homes. The people were so thankful and each shared their stories of what happened.
We slept in the Resurrection Life Christian Worship Center, which yesterday was declared the official distribution center by the Picayune City Council. They have been functioning unofficially in that the capacity for weeks. This morning, Pastor Mark Krammer of River of Life Church in Martin and his group went back to Biloxi to help. Pastor Mark Minager of Plainwell Calvary Community Church, John Jacobs, myself and three others stayed and removed a huge tree that heavily damaged both the interior and exterior of a 150 year old home. Presently, we are removing a tree from a local church so they can attempt to hold services tomorrow.
Please pray for the people in these communities and for the relief workers attempting to help them. Next week we will be going back to Biloxi with trucks filled with provisions. We will also have workers coming to help with tree removal, clean up, building repairs, etc. Please consider assisting us in this effort by coming with us next week or by donating food, cloths, roofing material, or contributing money. If you can come, bring a sleeping bag, food, water, a change of cloths and provisions for yourself for three days. Also bring work gloves (both rawhide and heavy plastic), hand saws, tree saws, chain saws, hammers, nail pouches, razor knifes, large scoop shovels, charcoal respirators for fumes, sunscreen and hats. It is hard work in a difficult environment, but the need is great and the people are so grateful. Please do whatever you can. We will be leaving from Agape Christian Church, located at 609 Cherokee in Kalamazoo, on Thursday, September 15th between 4:30 and 5:00pm. Thank you for any help or donations you can give.