The waters were like a beautiful, glimmering mirror, driving westerly along the beach on Highway 90 in Pass Christian Saturday morning.
Just a hint of a breeze, but not enough to really cause a ripple in the calm, Mississippi Gulf Coast waters.
How quietly deceiving.
As I drove along, witnessing such calm beauty, I couldn’t help thinking about if I was on this very spot, at this very time, on August 29, 2005, just 32 months ago, this same beautiful, calm water, would be 27 feet over my head, and I would be dead, like 32 others were in Pass Christian that day, 3 of whom, still have yet to be found.
The beaches have been cleaned up, and look really nice again.
Highway 90 is in the process of being re-paved, to erase scarred, ugly reminder of what Katrina did to it.
And almost all of the lots in The Pass have had the storm debris removed from them.
There remains thousands of dead Southern Pine trees, though, killed by the salt water of Katrina’s 31-foot surge.
Of the homes which were spared by Katrina in The Pass, were damaged in some manner, but were left on their foundations, many have been repaired, many not yet back to where they were on Aug. 28, 2005.
Many of the empty lots there, most still having the empty foundation slabs, have had new ‘tree houses’ of some nature, built upon them, much higher in elevation than their predecessors.
And, multitudes of the lots and slabs remain empty. Waiting.
Except for those still hosting one of the many FEMA trailers still around this town of formerly 7,000 residents.
There has been progress, yes, but so much remains to be done.
Volunteers from out-of-state and the area, are still coming to help, but in much smaller numbers than in the past. It shows that there are people from outside who still are aware and understand and care that much remains to be done all along the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast and in New Orleans, to help families recover from Katrina.
I received an email yesterday from my friend, Pastor Dennis Perger, of Jordan Lutheran Church, in rural Argyle, Wisconsin, inquiring about bringing another youth group down to Pass Christian this summer, like he has the past two years, for a week of volunteer work.
This evening, on my way back ‘home’ to my trailer in Long beach, I stopped in The Pass at The Tent Village, where Pastor Dennis and his group stayed last summer, to see if the Village could still host them.
A delightful, dedicated fellow, Wesley Beaver, is in charge of the Tent Village now, and advised that, yes, indeed, they are still operating and accepting volunteers there to come and help recover in The Pass.
However, Wesley shares my estimate of the great deal of work yet to be done, and asked me to try to inform anyone I could that many more volunteers were still needed here, and to ask that interested volunteers, school and church groups, whoever, call him to make arrangements to stay in the Tent Village, and help in the rebuilding and recovery of Pass Christian. Wesley can be reached at: 228-216-5189.
The situation is similar all along the gulf coast.
For the past 15 months, your bloger has lived, worked and volunteered on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on a two-year personal mission, in an attempt to help in a small way with that enormous rebuilding process. It has been an amazing experience and privilege for me. Like many down here, though, I want to do still more, and I would like you to join with me in that effort.
Scene in Pass Christian, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina; one of several thousand homes destroyed there.
~~~~~And, here is where Your Help Is Needed!
To further that goal of further assisting families on the Gulf Coast recover from Katrina, as well as also attempt to respond to the needs of other Americans experiencing future castatrophic loss, from whatever cause, as their needs may be, and our abilities, resources and available personnel permit, I am founding a new, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, called SAMARITAN DEEDS MISSIONS (SDM), and am seeking similar feeling people who wish to join with myself and others with the mission to help our fellow Americans in that rebuilding process, growing in effectiveness and scope, in ways that aren’t possible with a personal mission, and ultimately, to complete as much of the recovery process as is practicable. The main point of this new mission is to be devoted to helping Americans in their time of need, first!
Madison, WI Katrina worker Jordan Peterson, top image, and his father, Baraboo, WI electrician Neal Peterson, work on wiring a home in Pass Christian, Mississippi, helping families there recover from Hurricane Katrina, which had a 31′ storm surge in Pass Christian.
I have spent much of my life trying to respond to the needs of other Americans in their time of pain, and bring long years of experience to this new caring organization, to help in guiding its charitable mission efforts. Several of my long-time, fellow charitable workers in other missions , are joining in this new important effort. But many more are needed to make a real difference to suffering families. YOU are needed!
Realistically, that recovery process along the Gulf Coast from the effects of Katrina, will continue for several years to come, until our work here is no longer needed. There is a lot more that we can do now to help our fellow Americans in their time of need, as well as help with other disasters occurring in the United States.
Some might say, “That’s our government’s job to help in a disaster.” Well, if Katrina is any indication, FEMA’s historic, miserable, slow (non) response to Katrina’s aftermath doesn’t provide too much self-assurance in that department. FEMA was required to make public on June 1, 2007, their new plan for responding to future disasters, like Katrina. They missed that deadline, and more since then, and still do not have a new plan in place as of this date, with the start of the 2008 Hurricane season starting on June 1, 2008, ready or not!
Losing your home, having it just dissappear – never to be found, during Katrina’s 31′ storm surge, created incredible stress for survivor Evie Worland, of Henderson Point, at Pass Christian.
What HAS made such a critical difference in helping families on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans recover after suffering such serious losses in Katrina and Rita, has been the work of faith-based organizations and other private groups who have organized and stepped up to lend a meaningful and timely hand. That’s us, folks!
A windshield eye view of all that is left of Second Street in Pass Christian, MS four weeks after Katrina virtually destroyed 60% of the small city of 7000+ people.
And, as you would expect, there are start-up costs in creating and getting a new charitable organization off the ground and up and running , as well as other organizational needs, and I would take this opportunity to ask you who read this, to please consider helping in making the organization a reality, by contributing financially, and/or contributing your time and/or other resources, as you may be able to, and by helping publicize the need to others for support of this new organization of veteran charitable workers and their strong desire to help others. Those who contribute, will receive receipts for their contributions. Contributions can be made to: SAMARITANS DEEDS MISSIONS, and sent to: SAMARITANS DEEDS MISSIONS, P. O. Box 531, Long Beach, MS 39560. To Volunteer, contact: SDMissions@cableone.net
Work on a website for SDM is under way, but additional help and suggestions are welcome. I know many of you have some incredible skills in that technical area. Fund-raising is a whole other challenge, and a strong effort in that area is definitely needed, to help make SDM efforts successful.
Please be aware that this (now) very small, fledgling, charitable organization is not to be confused or thought to be affiliated with the huge, $300+ million dollar Samaritans Purse organization. We could sure put some of their funds to good and meaningful use, though…
SINCERE THANKS to you all for any and all assistance you may be able to lend to help SAMARITANS DEEDS MISSIONS in fulfilling its mission to help fellow Americans in need!
Can you help?
Will you help?