Pictured left to right: my brother David Elbourne, Mrs. Bea, me, and James. James drives a truck for a living. Even with Katrina in the gulf, Mrs. Bea did not want to evacuate. James drove in from Texas just in time to take her to higher ground.
Mrs Bea heads up the children’s church at Lakeshore Baptist. Her daughter, JoEll is our pianist. JoEll, her husband Geb and two of their kids lived in a house on the same property. Mrs. Bea’s sister, Vergie, and her two grown daughters, Lisa and Tammy also had a house there. All three homes were destroyed by the storm.
We have always said that when you look up the word “hospitality” in the dictionary, it ought to have Mrs. Bea’s picture beside the definition. After the storm, my Dad, brother, and I made our way from Baton Rouge down to Lakeshore to check on things. When we drove up to their property Mrs. Bea and James were sitting in two salvaged kitchen chairs underneath the only bit of small shade they could find. The first thing Mrs. Bea did was give me a big hug and offer us all something to drink.
In the pictures below, you can see steps leading up to where Vergie’s house used to be. You can see what’s left of the blue house in the distance. James, Mrs. Bea, Vergie, Tammy, and Lisa have set up camp there and we have been bringing them food, water, ice, and miscellaneous essentials. I have a generator for them coming tomorrow. I would really like to get a better roof over their heads than just a tent as they make plans to bring in more permanent trailers onto the property. If anyone would like to donate a camper for this need please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lakeshore Baptist Church exists in exile. They are scattered from Texas to Florida, even up to New Jersey and I’m not sure where all else. Let me share one email I received from Jeni.
We love you and miss all of you so much.
All family is accounted for and all is safe. Still tracking down friends, co-workers, and anyone we know. We were at Stennis for shelter along with the Lizana family. Lakeshore is mostly gone, whats left standing I don’t think is salvagable. All of my family has left the shelter and is living with relatives for a while. You or anyone else can reach me at 609-266-8336 or the physical address is 705 W Shore Drive, Brigantine, NJ 08203.
Mart, Tyler and I are staying with my sister. We are just off the coast of Atlantic City. We will be here until the property is cleaned and we have electricity. We see alot of good in all this and we are so thankful to God for everyone we have, and for keeping us safe throughout this entire ordeal. Even traveling the 21 hours it took to get here was dangerous. My youngest brother and his finace’ is here, along with my Dad. My mother is flying in tonight, her husband stayed to clean up for now.
Annette (Trina’s sister) was caught in the storm, but managed to survive. Mrs. Arlene was going to Trina’s aunt’s house in the Kiln last I saw her. If you could please post everyone’s where about for us. I’m keeping in touch with Mrs. Arlene’s sister-in-law, so I’ll let you know when I hear more infromation. For now you can reach us at this email address or you may call collect at any time. You may post my info for all the rest. If you could, please post name, number, location, and if there is anything needed. This is the information I am gathering trying to keep up with family members. There were 42 family members in the shelter with us. Randy and Judy Ladner (Chere’s parents) were with us along with here brother, his wife and their children. Ray and Karen Ladner (Mrs. Arlene’s brother) along with his wife and their son.
Mart’s cousin, Eric Moran one of the constable’s for Hancock and a few others went out right after the storm. They took some boats and started making rescue’s. This went on all through the night. Stennis the shelter we were in would not let us bring in any refugee’s. It was so hard on us knowing that they were suffering and there was nothing that we could do. We had went to Denham Springs to get gas and supplies when the rioting started there. By the time we got back to the shelter, rumor had it that people were starting to steal gas out of our cars. We left out immediately.
I heard today that Lakeshore was receiving relief. Army barracks are set up at the Wal-Mart in Waveland and Gulfview School is a distirbution center.
My sister has a benefit scheduled for the 18th, she is running ads, selling tickets, holding an auction and gathering as much stuff as she can. I’ll try to email you often to stay in touch.
Love to all,
Mart, Jeni & Tyler Ward
The nightmare continues. My wife woke up this morning to go for a bike ride. She is an avid cyclist and has not been able to spin her legs much since the disaster hit. I got a call from the police that they found her car on Old River Road in Baton Rouge with the window busted out. My Dad and I rushed out to find her. We found her. She is safe. The thief took her purse out of the trunk. Now she has no driver’s license, we have to cancel our credit cards, and go through all the hassles that in tales, all while not having a house to return to ourselves and ministering to our church family who themselves have all lost all their property. We now have no credit cards to buy gas and supplies as we travel back and forth between Baton Rouge and Lakeshore. On the way back to my parent’s house, through alligator tears my wife said, “I just want to go home.” Ya’ll pray for us. This is tough and overwhelming, but God will see us through.
Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed our church buildings. The front part of the roof landed across the parking lot. We found the steeple in the back corner of the property, and the baptistery ended up across the street. I have several more pictures but these will have to do for tonight.
We praise God that we have now heard from most all of our church members. I have not been able to talk with everyone personally, but through word of mouth almost everyone is accounted for. Please pray for us as we continue to contact every single person. Some evacuated far from the storms path, others left the lowest areas but still endured treacherous weather. Some huddled in attics and others swam to safety in the midst of the storm. Only God’s miraculous intervention spared their lives. We know of several in our community, not in our immediate church membership, who did lose their lives.
I believe that every last church member’s home has been destroyed. The wind and water rushed in, moving some homes across roads, gutting others, caving in roofs, and flattening others completely. I will post pictures soon.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Thank you so much for all the prayers and encouraging words you all have sent in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We still do not have any word on exactly how high the water rose in our house. If you have seen the news coverage pictures of New Orleans, it doesn’t look good. We will not be able to get into New Orleans for a good while. For now we are staying at my parents house in Baton Rouge. We have not decided where we will go from here. Many have asked if they can help financially. We can receive funds via Paypal.
or snail mail:
Pastor Don A Elbourne Jr
1451 Great Oak
Baton Rouge,LA 70810
We covet your prayers most of all. I still have not heard from most of our church members. Reports coming out of the Lakeshore/Waveland/Bay St. Louis area say that Katrina left nothing standing.
I am alive. My wife and two kids are alive. My family survived Hurricane Katrina. Still numb from the devastation around us, I can’t help but praise God for the safety of my family and the assurance that God’s providence works all things together for our good and his glory.
We live in New Orleans, or I should say we used to live in New Orleans. We still do not know about our house. We assume its underwater and perhaps a complete loss. We evacuated to my parent’s house in Baton Rouge. We may not be able to return for weeks or even months. Its hard to watch our city fill with water like a bathtub and try to decide where to go from here. Our hope rests in the firm foundation of our sovereign God who holds us in his right hand. This morning I think of John Newton’s words, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”
I still have not heard anything from any of our church members from Lakeshore Baptist Church. Most of them live very close to the water. I know most of them evacuated.
For those not familiar with the gulf coast, Lakeshore sits about half way between New Orleans LA and Gulport. MS, just outside Waveland/Bay St. Louis. Our church is only about a mile from the gulf, in a very low lying area. As soon as the roads open I want to get in and assess the damage. I will be very surprised if any of our church buildings still stand at all.
Now that I have internet access I will post updates as I find out more information. I just wanted to post this to let everyone know that we are safe. Please pray for us as we pick up the pieces, rebuild, and move forward to the glory of God.