My Father's World Response to Katrina Recovery
Many have wondered what My Father's World and the Hazells are doing in regard to the Katrina recovery. Our motto remains our guide: We must see the world through God’s eyes and act accordingly. A disaster like Katrina calls us all into action and for us it was very close to home. My brother has a lovely historic home three blocks from the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He evacuated his family to Jackson, Mississippi to a hotel that also lost electricity and water. He called us after the storm and moved to our home with his 2 kids. At the first opportunity, we returned to check out his home. Within 6 hours, the people of our town (Rolla, MO) raised several thousand dollars and filled our trailer with gas, food, water, tools, lumber and more. My brother and I were off to the south. Shortly after Memphis, near Jackson MS, we already began to see the affects. Trees down, power outage, gas shortage and long lines were evidence that the next days would be tough. When we arrived at his home, his yard was a shambles – trees everywhere – through the playhouse, across the fence in all direction, his shed smashed, and evidence of water up to the threshold of his front door, which was four feet above the ground. But his home was unscathed except for one broken window. His neighborhood was a much different story. Every restaurant and home on the lakefront was damaged severely. Many homes lay flat with no evidence of earlier existence. This is when we realized there was a much larger task for us.
The scene we observed last week is wreckage and chaos: Mile long lines of vehicles waiting to get gas; homes damaged beyond livable conditions; trees and power lines down. People don't understand that in America, except for the Civil War, we've never lost an entire city. New Orleans can't just start over right now. The city is gone. The suburban areas are "bedroom communities" and depend on New Orleans economically. It will be difficult to bounce back.
We spent two days in Mandeville and Slidell, working with the mayors as well as fire and police chiefs to determine what the cities need to rebuild. Each official had independent but large needs: The mayor of Mandeville urgently needed generators, the public works director needed diesel fuel, the police needed five-gallon gas containers, the fire administrator lost her car, and the Red Cross needed personal care products – shampoo, soap, feminine products, diapers of all sizes, bug spray and more. It was overwhelming to list it all and consider how we could help.
Then as we were driving on the interstate, we saw a pickup with a trailer from Arkansas advertising generators for $400. We waved the driver over and discovered he had seven left. We agreed immediately to buy them all for cash and asked them to follow us to the Mayor of Mandeville. Within 8 hours one of the largest needs was met. We then agreed with these fellows from Arkansas to bring another 150 generators to that area. Here were strangers talking to strangers, sensing Christian brotherhood that had called us all to duty. On our word that we would pay for the generators within a week, these fellows delivered the rest of the generators to the area. The next day we met Christians at Tammany Oaks Church of Christ in Mandeville and they agreed to purchase the bulk of the generators from their disaster relief fund if we would raise the money to replenish the church's fund. God is amazing!
Within hours, we found a surplus of diesel and arranged to have it delivered to the public works director of Mandeville. We also had a truckload of personal hygiene supplies delivered to the Red Cross. There just is not enough room to tell all that God was doing through us in such a short time. We were there to help connect the dots at a time when communication was down everywhere.
During our visit we met Christians at Tammany Oaks Church of Christ who are doing a tremendous job meeting the local needs and pressing into even the harder hit areas of Louisiana. Their disaster relief organization (contact below) assures us that 100% of donations we direct to their fund will go to disaster relief and that we can direct the spending of any significant contributions. This amazing group of people who see the big picture are helping us meet the needs the local leadership. A generator that we dropped at the Lacombe, LA fire station was immediately placed in their city shelter that had not seen a single light bulb working for seven days. The police chief in Slidell estimated that over 50% of his officers currently on duty are without homes. He said with tears in his eyes, "All I ask, is to please tell whoever is helping us -- God bless them."
Mandeville wasn't hurt as badly as New Orleans, however it will still take months to rebuild. We can help, but we have to go above and beyond the ordinary, without taking from other giving commitments we have to our churches and missions. My brother has donated use of his home to emergency crews who previously had been sleeping eight to ten people in a motel room. He also loaned his car to the local fire administrator who lost hers in the hurricane. We are looking into lending one of our trailers for the relief efforts. We will replace curriculum lost in the hurricane for current customers at no cost and discount curriculum to new customers who lost homes in the disaster.
Through my brother, we are in frequent contact with Mayor Eddie Price of Mandeville; Police Chief, Tom Buell; The St. Tammany Fire Department and the local Red Cross as well as leadership of the city of Slidell, one of the most devastated in the area we had visited. We also will stay in close contact with the leadership of Tammany Oaks Disaster Relief. They intend to reach deeper into St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish as well as into affected Mississippi communities. Our goal is to turn people's cash into something that can be used immediately and when the most important needs change, we will change what we deliver. In this way donations go quickly to urgent needs and are not tied up in administration. All donations are completely tax deductible. Your donation will help the local city officials and relief personnel meet the most immediate needs.
Those who can't donate goods or money can still help. Please Pray.
Thank you for your help!!! God bless you!
My Father's World
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