Tuesday, November 15, 2005

We can't forget Waveland, Mississippi

Waveland, Mississippi had storm surges of twenty to thirty feet in most areas. If homes were not completely torn from their foundations and spread for miles from the winds, they were submerged in water, some more than ten feet over their roof lines. Homes were set down on railroad tracks. All the town halls, etc. completely destoyed. Needless to say, the town of Waveland has been destroyed. Not much was ever shown on the news about Waveland...they will be rebuilding for many, many years to come. Most people are still in survival mode. Some of the fortunate ones are able to have their homes fully gutted, given a permit and are slowly trying to make a dent in huge task ahead of them. Many people are living in tents on their property. Kids just started school last week and it is strange to watch them get off a bus...and walk down streets with devastation to their right and to their left. At the 3 or 4 distribution tents around the town, many thousands of volunteers and residents are fed three times a day for free. Those places are run by various church organizations as far away as California.

Word of Faith church is where we have landed. What an awesome group of people with a wonderful pastor...and they really need all the help that people are willing to give. There is a huge distribution tent that the church maintains for anyone who has a need. Hundreds come by daily for anything from clothes, sheets, some toiletries. Trucks will show up with supplies donated from all over the country.

Today we installed insulation in a church member's house. We also needed to strip and reconnect wiring in all the outlets that had sat in water that went at least 6 feet high in her house.

Here are a few random stories I need to write down before I forget.

Pastor Tyrone wanted to get a dryer over to a mom of one of the ladies in the church. The mom lives next door to the church member who has known Tyrone since before he became a pastor. . Joe and I (Libby) took the dryer over today and installed it. I talked awhile with Marilyn on her driveway...listening to her story.
When we were going to the car I asked Joe if he had checked to see if the dryer worked. "No," he said...men...(ha ha) Anyway, I said, "Joe, you are definitely not a mom...I'm not leaving here until we check to see if the dryer works." Sure enough...it did NOT work. We tried EVERYTHING...pushed in the cord numerous times, checked breakers on the sub panel and Marilyn checked the main panel outside...nothing worked as I kept pushing buttons, shaking the dryer...opening and closing the door.
At one point I mumbled, "we need a miracle here"...tried the button...nothing. Joe said wecouldn't start messing with the 220 outlet...I'm looking at this sweet lady Marilyn who probably had gotten her hopes up to finally do laundry in her home, ...and I knew we could not leave there without that dryer working, and having to send someone back some other day. I said " God, we REALLY need a miracle here...and I touched the dryer, sort of by the lint collector, NOT the start button...and....I jumped so far WHEN THAT THING STARTED!.
Joe, Marilyn and myself knew there was no explaining that miracle away... God gets that glory.

It's so hard to begin writing about what's going on here because it is so overwhelming and it's hard to know where to begin. Every story is literally unblievable.

The young family with two small kids, girl age 6 and boy age 7 live in a FEMA trailer behind the one I stay in on the church property. During the storm the dad had walked 4 miles over trees and debris to get to his mother in law who was stuck in her attic, the house completely flooded. The mother in law broke her arm on the way out of there. His own house had a storm surge 10 feet OVER his roof, so needless to say they have NOTHING left. Three of their four dogs died in the hurricane. What makes that even worse for him was that part of his income is from the dogs as they are show dogs that he gets $3,000 for each puppy. The two sweet kids just got to start school this past week. They don't have room in their trailer for anything extra so they don't have all that kids would usually have at home with them.

Josh, Joe, Alan and I went over to Jeanette's house the first day we arrived. Their beautiful dream house...a yellow cottage with a front porch that they built 3 years ago...totally destroyed...you walk around and see parts of photo albums from who knows from where...sometimes being able to make out the images in the picture...proms, new baby, graduations...on and on. The house will be bulldozed, they will sell the land and she plans on moving to South Carolina to open a bakery with her daughter who lives there. Sadly, her 80 mom had just moved into a beautiful new home they built for her one year ago...and it is gone. Her mom is now in Texas with another relative, wants to come back to see her home...but her daughter knows it would be too much for her.

The first lady I met here, Delia, age 71, had moved here from Visalia, Ca. two months before the storm. Her church had prophesied over her that He had big plans for her in Mississippi and that He would have His hand on her the whole time. She didn't know that would be Katrina and the storm's aftermath. She has seen God move in miraculous ways every day since the morning her daughter called and told her and her husband to just get the dogs in the car and start driving East...get as far away as quick as she could. They ended up in some parking lot in the Florida panhandle for 3 days in their van with their dogs as the few hotels that had room would take no animals. They ended up having to take the pets to the SPCA. It was terrible for her. They returned to waveland to find that their house had been completely submerged. It has been gutted, but they are in a section of Waveland that is not recieving bulilding permits yet. They now reside in a FEMA trailer here on the church property. They just got water and plumbing this week. Recently, she found out that someone had gone to the shelter in Florida and got the dogs before they were put down...and searched for over a month for her back here in Waveland. They even had people drivning by this church looking for their blue van. Persistance paid off and they reunited their smaller dog with them and agreed to keep the bigger lab, Summer, that would not be practical in the trailer here on the church property.

The house we are going to work at tomorrow belongs to a lady at this church. During the storm her and her 75 year old mother waded out of ther house in chin deep water then had to swim in water over their heads for several blocks until they got to a tree they climbed into and waited 4 hours there to be rescued. We will be pulling down what drywall is left in her house.

As we drove with Pastor Tyrone yesterday, he took us by Robert's house...well...Robert's "foundation"...Tyrone said, "So now it's time to play the game 'find' Robert's house." Josh, Alan, Joe and I started guessing what pile of debris might be his "house." We were all wrong. About 300 yards away, across a road, BEHIND some tall trees that were still standing...sat Robert's house. Somehow it had been picked up (probably a tornado) lifted all the way over there and sat it UPRIGHT on top of someone else's trailer. It is surreal...I will show you all that photo later. Unbelievable.

By the way, today Pastor Tyrone got the check from State Farm Insurance for his house...$6,000.

We cannot forget Waveland, Mississippi


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