There's been a lot of press coverage on the 5 year anniversary of hurricane Katrina. Probably 95% of the coverage has focused on New Orleans, which received about a foot of water and some minor wind damage from the storm's initial pass. (The neglected, insufficient, man-made, levees provided the real damaging floods.)
What most people don't realize, even today, is that Mississippi, particularly the areas between Waveland and Gulfport, were ground zero for this storm. There were storm surges over 30 feet high at the coast that stretched out for miles inland.
I remember feeling called, truly called, to go to MS to help. I had just started a new job at a large bank a couple months before, and I had one week of vacation that year. My kids at the time were 8, 5 and 3. I was thinking, Lord if you really want me to go, you're going to have to make it happen. My plan was to go for 3 weeks. To my surprise, my wife consented, and my employer gave me the additional 2 weeks vacation!
I was off to Camp Coast care with a fellow parishioner to serve in whatever capacity needed. I slept in a tent for 3 weeks, and I probably never slept better. Waves and waves of volunteers, supplies and money showed up. Old and young, with all kinds of different backgrounds and skill sets, were housed, fed and deployed from a school gym. St. Patrick's (Long Beach) church members worshipped there since their building no longer existed. Waves and waves of hurting, hungry, lost and broken people came needing help. The need was (and, I believe, continues to be) greater than the supply.
One of the many things that stick with me from those 3 weeks is, while not knowing what would happen day to day, I awoke each day filled with joy at knowing I would be serving in whatever way God needed, in His army, and for His children. This feeling of joy and fulfillment is something I have never experienced in my 20+ year career in IT, nor do I anticipate I ever will. Truly, I was blessed.
That time I spent at Camp Coast Care was such a sweet testament to the giving, caring, loving spirit God has placed in each of us. This spirit and His constant love and provision for us are too often misplaced in "normal" everyday life. But Katrina gave me/us this glimpse of God's "normal", served His purposes, and I have been changed forever.
Also visit Rev. David Knight's moving post at: