Cleaning Up Katrina’s Mess

Written by Drew on September 11th, 2005

Yesterday, seven men from the Ashville Road church of Christ traveled south from Leeds, Alabama, to Grand Bay, near the coast, to deliver much needed supplies to the victims of Katrina’s wrath. I was fortunate enough to be involved in this effort and learned some valuable lessons from seeing the devastation with my own eyes. Here are a few of my observations, for what they’re worth.

The destruction and suffering cannot be exaggerated. Watching the news will give you an idea of how bad things are, but it is impossible to fully understand the situtation without seeing it with your own eyes. Even then, it is hard to take it all in. We were unable to make it into “ground zero,” so to speak, but did survey the coast from Mobile to Pascagoula; after two weeks the situation still looks bleak.

The hardest-hit area we visited was Bayou la Batre, Alabama. As we drove our vehicles down the main strip, we saw businesses and homes devastated by floodwaters and wind. We crossed over a harbor full of ships that had been run aground by the tempest. One building looked as though it had been smashed in pieces by one of the larger boats.

Our tour was not entirely bad news, though. The outpouring of love shown by local churches, civic organizations, restaurants, FEMA, and the Red Cross was wonderful to see. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, people were everywhere–a man was grilling hamburgers for free lunches here, a church was handing out cleaning products there. The locals filed into lines before volunteers to get their hands on much needed supplies and food. All the controversy in the news notwithstanding, it became clear to me that real help in places like this comes not in the form of government handouts, but through human kindness. I pray that, in this nation, we will always be able to count on that, no matter what may be happening in politics.

We are grateful to the Grand Bay church of Christ for agreeing to distribute the items we collected to victims in their community and the surrounding areas. This is not a large congregation–they have about 30 in the Sunday morning worship services. This does not discourage them. They have willing hands, and, by doing their part, they are glorifying the name of Christ through their efforts.

Contrary to what most believe to be the case on the Gulf Coast, the area to which we delivered our goods was extremely poor. When someone talks of the coast, we normally imagine beaches, luxurious resorts, and expensive summer homes belonging to blue-blooded aristocrats. However, we saw nothing of the kind. In fact, one in our group commented that, with some of the homes, it was hard to tell if the rubble was caused by Katrina or abject poverty. Because of these conditions, the recovery process will take longer in these forgotten environs. The local residents have a long road ahead of them.

In the weeks ahead, I will be sure to continue my updates on the hurrican relief administered by churches of Christ. In my opinion, the work has only just begun. When a disaster of this magnitude hits, the broken lives left in its wake take months, even years, to mend.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Drew Kizer says:

    I am told a group under the direction of Wiley Dean is leaving from the Ninth Ave. congregation in Haleyville this coming Sunday night (Sept. 18) to go to Gulfport, MS to take canned food, toilet paper, bread, diapers, water, toiletries, etc.

  2. andy says:

    Actually, the group that went to Gulfport from Haleyville was not from the 9th Avenue church, though they are Christians. As far as I can tell, the effort is by Wiley Dean and his family.

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