Katrina Rebuilding Still Going Strong

As we approach the three year mark of the storm, even the most dedicated organizations have begun to finish up their relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. For example, the cover story in the Baptist Record a couple of weeks ago announced; “Katrina rebuilding slated for closure.” This news only pertains to the officially sanctioned work of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Gulf Coast Baptist Association office.

Our efforts, here at Lakeshore Baptist Church, show no signs of slowing down. The last numbers released by FEMA indicate that we still have roughly 4000 families living in temporary housing in Hancock County alone. We still have a long way to go and much work left to do. We can’t let up now, when the most desperate still await assistance.

This week we have about 140 volunteers from Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida. We have seen over 1000 volunteers this summer. Two new homes were framed in the past couple of months and we need folks to come help finish them up.

We praise God for our bulging summer calendar. We have had a great last couple of months, but as we look to the fall schedule, we have plenty of room, and an overwhelming need, for volunteer teams to continue making plans to come. We plan to frame at least two more houses in the coming weeks. We have another 15-20 homes at various stages of completion and several more on the drawing board. We need your help for this work to continue.

Its not too late to make plans for a mission trip to Lakeshore this fall. Contact us today to join us in the ongoing relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts on the gulf coast for the glory of God.

Foundation Work

Foundation work

We started another new house this week. A great group of guys from Alabama have been working the auger and setting pilings. Late yesterday afternoon the holes passed inspection and the men are pouring concrete today. Next week, a group from Kentucky plans to frame the house in record time.

A home for “Ling-ling”

Dog House

Last week while volunteer construction crews from Alabama continued working on new homes for area residents, their children poured their labor into building a new home for a local pet. As the Cox house nears completion, the kids decided that Mrs. Betty’s dog also needed a home to replace the one lost in the storm. Using left over scraps from the main house, they put together a nice looking new home for “Ling-ling.” I praise god for these kids who realize that helping put a families life back together involves more that just getting a roof over their head. The labor-of-love dog house serves as another gracious gift of hope for a community still in recovery.

Abingdon Virginia

Abingdon Virginia Mobile Relief Unit

Abingdon Virginia Mobile Relief Unit

If you have been to Lakeshore, no doubt you noticed that the kitchen trailer and the shipping container bunk houses have the name “Highlands Fellowship – Abingdon VA.” These folks graciously donated the use of these resources for the duration of the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. I know I’ve thanked them before, but I wanted to say again how much these resources have enhanced the volunteer efforts in our community.

One of their church members, Bob Turner, spear headed the connection between Highland Fellowship and Lakeshore, providing other useful tools, like our back hoe, concrete tools, and other things. Bob has been a great friend to Lakeshore and to me personally and a tremendous encouragement. Its great to have him here again this week.

Bob brought us some great news. Highlands Fellowship wants to fund a major project. They plan to work in Lakeshore for the entire month of September. They have adopted a family in our community and look to build their home with rotating volunteer teams. This week we have been looking over the house design, getting the material list together, and doing other preparatory work so that the construction crew can hit the ground running. I’m excited about these developments and continue to praise God for the partnership with our friends from Virginia.

Dave Stevenson

Dave Stevenson

Last week my family had an opportunity to take a vacation. We traveled to New York City. We met up with our good friend Dave Stevenson and his family. Dave, a golf pro by profession, came to Lakeshore in the days following the storm, camped out on the church property in a tent, cooked in “dutch ovens” for everyone daring enough to brave the complete devastation and those stranded in the area, took a lot of stunning pictures, and fell in love with the community.

He compiled his pictures into a book, called the “Three Day Book.” Out of his own pocket, Dave foot the bill for the custom printing and pointed the donation proceeds our way. Folks would spend three days with the book, send us a financial contribution, and pass it on. We didn’t have a mechanism to keep track of how much money the book raised, but we know we received a good bit to fund the ongoing day-to-day volunteer efforts. btw, if you have a copy of the book in your possession, please take some time today to look over it again and find someone you can share the book with to keep the book going.

Dave has become one of our most dedicated advocates. He speaks at schools, colleges, civic organizations, businesses, and professional meetings. Anywhere someone will listen, Dave shares the plight of the gulf coast and pushes to raise awareness and funds for the rebuilding efforts. In 2006 Dave deservedly received the PGA “Humanitarian of the Year” award for his work on behalf of Lakeshore. NBC’s Jimmy Roberts highlighted Dave’s work during the US Open. In a recent trip to New York, Mississippi’s Governor, Haley Barbour, personally met with Dave and thanked him for his support.

At dinner last week, Dave shared with me his latest initiative. His golf club sponsored a tournament dubbed the “Katrina Open.” He presented me with a copy of the three day book signed by all the participants and checks totaling over $3,000.

As we approach the three year anniversary of the storm, I praise God for guys like Dave who have not shown even a hint of forgetting about the much needed work ahead in the ongoing relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts.

Katrina - Three Day Book

Harvest Community

Harvest Community Church in Lakeshore Mississippi

Harvest Community Church, with Jeff Kisiah, has made 10 trips to Lakeshore. Here are a few pictures from their recent trip depicting some of the facets of their efforts; a group photo, physical labor on projects, work in the kitchen, and community contact. We praise God for long-term commitments and partnerships, like we enjoy with the Harvesters, for the sake of the gospel.

Harvest Community Church in Lakeshore Mississippi

Harvest Community Church in Lakeshore Mississippi

Harvest Community Church in Lakeshore Mississippi

Relief Site

Relief Site

Immediately after the storm Lakeshore Baptist Church began receiving donations of relief supplies from across the country. We set up a blue-tarp awning on the church property, where the church building used to sit, to hold church services and to distribute the contributions to the community. We snapped the picture above in October of 2005, just weeks after the storm. This effort evolved into our distribution center where we still provide assistance to those attempting to get back on their feet. We now open on Wednesday through Saturday with groceries, clothing, and household items brought in from friends from coast to coast.

Finishing Lilly’s

Lilly Garcia's House

Last week a team from Alabama finished the siding on Lilly Garcia’s house. We still need to complete the bathroom by installing the water heater, setting the sink and commode, running the plumbing to the shower, and finishing the closet space. We also need to install the kitchen countertop and a few other miscellaneous things. Everyone is excited to help Mrs. Lilly move into her new home soon.