I love receiving reports from volunteers. If you have written anything about your trip to Lakeshore, please feel free to pass it along. I’d be glad to post it here for the benefit of others. That includes, pictures, videos, or other things.
Michael Poirier, Director of Faithful Steward Ministries submitted the following article to his local newspaper:
Aug 29, 2005 is a day, that will be indelibly etched tin the minds of many in the Gulf coast. Some four and a third years later the effects can still be seen and more importantly felt in the community.
Recently I had the privilege of spending a week in the epicenter of the storm, Bay Saint Louis/Lakeshore, Hancock County, Mississippi. I traveled as part of a group of ten men from Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel, Chicopee, MA and Faithful Steward Ministries of West Springfield MA. We were part of a larger humanitarian mission coordinated by Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, PA. New Orleans may have and still seems to get the focus of people’s attention but this is the spot where the eye of Katrina made land fall.
For a moment imagine your at the beach enjoying the sun and fun. Now imagine that same beach under 30 plus feet of water. Hard enough to visualize, but the real effects come when the waters finally recede. Things that were once miles inland find their way to the beach and items normally found on the beach are found inland. That is the devastation that the folks in Lakeshore found after Katrina hit. Then came the usual problems associated with any major disaster, the need for food, water and shelter. We all have heard the stories of FEMA and its woes, what you probably have not heard about is one church, Lakeshore Baptist Church (LBC) and its ongoing efforts to rebuild in Hancock County.
Upon arriving in Lakeshore my first impression was that things did not look so bad. There was the new elementary school and things seemed Ok. Well of course after 52 months one could expect that the debris would have been removed. It was when I reached base camp at Lakeshore Baptist Church, say the mish mash of buildings there, and upon closer inspection of the community, that you could see the vacant lots where not only homes but lives were destroyed; the pylons that once supported businesses that will never return and a church steeple on the side of the road hoping one day to once again stand tall and proud on a house of worship.
Before we continue I think it prudent to review some facts about Hancock county Mississippi. They had a Pre-Katrina population of 46,000 and now 40,000 a decrease of about 16%. Eighty individuals lost their lives in the storm along with thousands of homes and nearly 1000 businesses. According to the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce; prior to the storm, the area developed a regional reputation as a great place to live, work, play and retire because of its relaxed atmosphere, great food, diverse cultural activities and strong sense of place.
One would think that the folks in the area would be weary and maybe even bitter of the struggle to rebuild. However what we found was that famous Southern Hospitality. Everyone we spoke to, every house we visited had nothing but appreciation for our being there and a kind word to share. One household we visited, had a family of five living in a structure no bigger than a utility shed available at home depot. When the visitation team arrived they were not only warmly greeted but the people told then they wished that they knew they were coming because they’d of put up lunch for everyone. How many of us would give all we had for a stranger. We found many who still are without running water or power and yet consider it a blessing for what they have.
While many set about to rebuild their own homes and businesses, LBC has spent the past 4 years and 4 months rebuilding not only homes but also lives. All at the sacrifice of their own church facilities. It was very evident to this individual that their efforts have not been in vain. Our group and some 100 other ARBCA (Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America) volunteers from across the country paid their own way to converge upon the Lakeshore area to help in the ongoing rebuilding projects. We spent a week in temporary housing (canvas Quonset huts) and enjoyed a week of hard work and great fellowship.
Pastor Don and the folks at LBC have been on the forefront of these efforts for more that 4 years and are determined to finish as strongly as they started. There is still much work to be done and many needs to be filled. There is no “qualification” other than is the need legitimate? I for one am convinced that there are still many with needs, whether it is material, financial or spiritual LBC and the volunteers have resolved to make every effort to see them met.
What can you do to help? First and foremost pray! Pray for the folks of the gulf coast, pray for the members of Lakeshore Baptist church, pray for the volunteers. Get personally involved in the rebuilding efforts there. You can do this by contacting LBC at www.rebuildlakeshore.com and signing up to go and volunteer for a week. Even if you can not go there in person you can still be apart of the work there. They have immediate need for food, clothing, (especially large men’s sizes) and other basic necessities. You can donate monies for this also on the web or by sending a tax deductible check to
Lakeshore Baptist Church
Po Box 293
Lakeshore MS 39558.