Message 7 / Day 7 October 22
We awakened at 4am (2am CA time), showered, ate and packed up. We needed to get one team member to the New Orleans Airport by 7am to meet a Taxi. After dropping her off (the taxi followed us into the airport – perfect timing!), we drove to Mississippi.
We crossed Lake Pontchartrain via a 30 mile long causeway, turned right on the highway to the Mississippi border, arriving around 9am. For the next 90 minutes, we drove along the coast through Waveland, Bay St Louis, and Pass Christian. The devastation was different, more visible but the end result was the same as Louisiana, most homes will have to be bulldozed.
We drove toward the ocean on a quiet neighborhood street. A sign at the entrance alerted sightseerers that this neighborhood was going to rebuild, please don’t disturb or hinder their activity. One car was partially on it’s side with a spray painted message, “Please don’t remove, this is all we have left”. Halfway down the road, we pulled over and parked. Everyone left the vehicles and scattered quietly in different directions, observing foundations whose homes were in pieces, blown up the street, teddy bears hooked in chain link fences, bottle of Champagne, still whole, sitting on foundations, plastic bags trapped in trees, rubble everywhere. There was a couple sifting through debris. We reassembled as a group and prayed for the people in the neighborhood and for all the families who were displaced by Katrina and Rita.
As we broke from prayer, I walked in the direction of the couple. The lady stopped and talked. We found out her husband was a mediator between the homeowners and the insurance companies. They were Christians and had lost their home in Gulfport. He was evaluating a home of an older lady who had placed a folding chair on the foundation in what used to be her living room. She comes frequently and sits in her chair amidst the debris. Others return and find some little item and the set it back on the foundation. The wave going through this neighborhood was about 11 feet high and traveled about 45 miles an hour. It lifted roofs off homes and then knocked down the walls, and the heavier, smaller debris was left near the home. The roofs were carried farthest from the ocean and were deposited at the head of the street, next was the timber all jammed against trees in the middle of the street, then every foundation was strewn with small items. This inspector told me that the damage was done by water, evidenced by the evergreen trees dying, the water lines on the trees, them above the waterline the bark was blown off. Also the roofs were fairly intact, complete with shingles. If it were wind damage, there would be no tree markings, and everything would be splintered and blown apart. The sad news of this evaluation: no insurance coverage for water damage. He had to tell the homeowners the tragic news.
We left for the airport about 120 miles away in Baton Rouge. It wasn’t until we were almost there that the devastation was no longer visible. There is no way you could stand against such force.
Our hearts are torn in leaving. We’ve grown to love the gentle spirits in St Bernard Parish. We will not forget them and we will keep our promise to tell their story. Please help us pray for officials who will be compassionate and proactive and that the homes and communities will be restored quickly and well. We’ve enjoyed being your ambassadors and are humbled to have been of service.