Thursday, June 29, 2006

KatrinaGrace Team VII

On Sunday 2 July, the KatrinaGrace Team VII will be traveling to Trinity Church in Covington, LA to work with Trinity and Compassion Ministries in Katrina Recovery.

Since the storm, KatrinaGrace has sent down 1 Reconnaisance Team, 2 Supply Teams, 1 Cooking Team, 2 Work Teams, and 1 Pastoral Team. Team VII is a Work Team.

KatrinaGrace Team VII is
  • Eric Heflinger
  • Terry Gallion
  • Jeff Maddock
  • Daniel Rizza
  • Gregory Klassen
  • Jeff Klassen
  • Matt White
  • Robert Flowers - Leader
Please pray for this team that
  • they would have travel safety in flying and driving
  • that they would be safe while they work - some Work Teams are sent to hazardous situations.
  • that they would have a chance to spiritually connect with Katrina survivors
  • that they would get the amount of rest they need in unusual sleeping situations
  • that they would work together well as a team and with Trinity and Compassion Ministries

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Katrina Kids

"Children at a day-care center in Gautier, Miss., ask their caregivers every day: "Did you watch the Weather Channel? What does the Weather Channel say?" In a New Orleans trailer park, a 12-year-old boy who spent five days outside the convention center after Hurricane Katrina and saw a woman in a wheelchair slowly die pleads with his mother to buy a car so they can escape the next big one. An 8-year-old girl is convinced that another hurricane will hit New Orleans -- she is even sure it will be on June 15 and a Category 8 (a rating that doesn't exist)."

Washington Post article on Katrina's effect on the young (free registration required)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A New Letter from Michael Sprague

Michael Sprague, Trinity Church's Senior Pastor, posts a new letter in which he talks about KatrinaGrace Team VI which visited Covington, LA at the end of May.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Explaining How the New Orleans Flood Happened

The Times-Picayune has a wonderful site that does a great job at graphically depicting how New Orleans was flooded as a result of Katrina.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A New Site on Katrina and New Orleans

Grace Community Church's Peter Moulton has offered a wonderful new site on New Orleans and the saga of one of his best friends there.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The New Face of New Orleans

USA TODAY reported today that

  • "the New Orleans area...became 73% white in the months after the hurricane Aug. 29, up from about 59% before the storm."

  • "The median age increased by about four years, and the median annual income rose from $39,793 to $43,447."

  • "The Louisiana Recovery Authority estimates about 200,000 homes were destroyed."

  • "Katrina and the subsequent breaching of the levee system flooded 80% of New Orleans..."

  • "The city of New Orleans lost about 64% of its residents after the storm, going from 437,000 in July to 158,000 in January, the Census Bureau says.

    New Orleans demographer Greg Rigamer says the city's population has risen to 200,000 since the Census survey. "

  • "Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where Katrina hit directly and swept away miles of coastal homes, the population has dwindled 17%, from 363,000 to 303,000."

  • "The black population rose from 17% to 28%, while the white population declined from 80% to 71%.

    whole article

Monday, June 05, 2006

Report and Pictures from the KatrinaGrace Team VI - the Compassion Team

"You have to be our hands & feet."

Kathy Boren
Covington, LA resident &
a member of Trinity Church
Friday 2 June 2006

If all you want to see are the pictures, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Early Sunday Morning on May 28th, the eight members of KatrinaGrace Team VI, dubbed "The Compassion Team," boarded a plane and flew to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. After reviewing some of the damage near the Marina, the Team continued their journey across Lake Pontchartrain to Covington, LA. There they intended to follow up on just some of the over 4000 folks that the over 3000 volunteers working through Trinity Church and Compassion Ministries had reached out to with practical assistance since Katrina. The KatrinaGrace Team VI consisted of

  • Allan Kiang,
  • Becky Rocco,
  • Douglas Morin,
  • George Murrill,
  • Jessie Royster,
  • Mary Lou Gradisek,
  • Sandra Clabough, and
  • Stephen Shields

  • The Group rented four cars and divided into twos to visit as many households as they could thru Friday, June the 2nd.

    We were able to reach out to somewhere between 35 and 40 households during our trip. Every morning the Team rose at 6 AM, breakfasted at 6:30 AM with several other Work Teams who had also slept overnight in the church buildings, heard devotions at 7 AM, and then met to pray and strategize the day. Most evenings we regathered for supper at 6:30 PM. Individuals were there this particular week from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York, and North Carolina.

    It was a rich, humbling, sobering, and wonderful experience.

    In New Orleans East, you can drive for 10 to 15 minutes on Interstate 10 and see nothing but devastated neighborhood after devastated neighborhood on your left and right. One mall there was completely submerged and it's still not open. We spent a lot of time in Slidell where entire communities were flooded. Many folks are still in FEMA trailers, which can be found lined up beside each other on street after street. One resident shared with us that calling and visiting insurance companies, the Red Cross, FEMA, etc. and working through all the red tape is a full-time job on its own. And if you didn't lose most or all of your house, you might have lost your job. Or maybe you lost it all and a few friends and relatives besides. The people there are shell-shocked and in need of lots of attention, care, practical help, prayer and counsel. Many have compared the area to a war zone. One former war zone television correspondant said that it was worse than a war zone. The death toll is currently over 1800 with over 700 still missing. The total economic impact in Mississippi and Louisiana is estimated to exceed $150 billion. The storm left 500,000 homeless and destroyed over 150,000 homes in the New Orleans area alone. As Kathy Boren, also quoted above, commented last week, "The city died and there's no one to bury it."

    One of the main things the Compassion Team did was to listen. Some don't wish to burden their neighbors with their hardships because their neighbors have enough hardships of their own. And many locals are so caught up in resolving their own challenging situations that they simply don't have the time, energy, or even the inner strength to reach out to those around them. People expressed gratitude that they could tell their story to someone. One thanked one of our Team members because she said that it was the first time anyone had listened to her. Another said that it was the first time she had cried since she lost her house. As we had opportunity, we shared God's love and the gospel of Jesus Christ with the folks we visited. Team members also brought to the area a number of $25 WalMart Gift Cards to give out as they saw the need during their visits.

    And there were so many stories.

    Before we came down we received a list from Trinity/Compassion of some of the folks that needed the most follow-up. One was an elderly lady that supposedly lived in a bus. The information was dated and we found it hard to believe that someone could thrive in a hot bus for this period of time. There was a phone number contact for the lady named Donna and we called and left a message. No one called back. Finally, one day I suggested to my team partner, Douglas, that we just try to find her. We drove to the provided address and - sure enough - there was an old Bluebird bus that looked undrivable. I still did not believe that anyone was in that bus. We walked up to the house beside it and let the resident know that we were looking for Donna.

    "She's in the bus."

    Sure enough, she was.

    She greeted us, directed us to pull up a couple of chairs outside, and said that she was so glad that she could tell someone her story. The room that she and her sister had built on the back of her sister's house where Donna was going to spend the rest of her life was destroyed by Katrina. Donna, who had suffered 2 heart attacks and was blind in one eye, eventually ended up in this bus. The good news was that the bus had been turned into something of a converted camper with a sink, a bed, most critically air conditioning, and - even - a 20 inch TV with, unbelievably, cable! Donna had been a gospel singer and indicated that she still had faith. We gave her four $25 WalMart Gift Cards before we left and that evening we picked her up to attend Trinity's weekly 5:30 PM Community Dinners.

    Jessie Royster and Becky Rocco comprised one of the four Compassion SubTeams and were given an address to visit where an earlier Work Team had done some roof repair. When they pulled up to the address at the end of a dead end street, Jessie - who's African-American - noticed that the man had a Confederate Flag flying. She and Becky looked at each other but Jessie felt that God was telling her, "This is not your doing; this is not Trinity's doing; this is my doing. Trust me. I've got your back." They proceeded.

    The large and muscular home owner greeted them wearing a Confederate Flag belt buckle, a ZZ Top beard, a pony tail, and a t-shirt that said, "Wife Beater."

    And he was a perfect gentleman to them.

    Jessie, who's originally from Mississippi, and he talked about the South and about Conservative Talk Radio, to which they both listened. Becky shared later that she wondered if Jessie, who usually asked if she could hug whomever they were visiting as they were leaving, would ask to hug this man. Becky thought Jessie wouldn't because he was a guy and because of the whole Confederate flag thing.

    Becky was right.

    Instead, the man asked Jessie if he could hug her.

    And there were many other stories.

    In addition to followup work, we were able to serve in a number of different capacities while in Covington. Allen Kiang worked one day with one of the Work Teams from Colorado gutting out a home. When one of Compassion's key staffers fell ill, Sandra Clabough and Mary Lou Gradisek worked for most of the week coordinating the Work Teams and contacting area residents about their Work Requests. We were also able to provide Compassion staffers with a training sesson on Suicide Prevention and Compassion Director Mark Lewis indicated that he was going to include the literature we provided to all future Work Team Leaders.

    The crew returned to Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Saturday, June the 3rd and began their re-integration back into their pre-Katrina trip lives. Honestly, we all continue to process all that we saw and experienced.

    Some time ago someone asked me if we were making much of a difference. I responded that the need was so great that our efforts were just a drop in the bucket. Later, my wife Beth properly corrected me with this comment: "For the folks we're helping, we're making a world of difference."

    Of course, there's still a lot to be done. And KatrinaGrace plans to do more as God gives opportunity. We've already met with Habitat for Humanity about the possibility of jointly executing a rebuilding initiative. But, for now, there's still a large need to clean up, gutting houses, etc.

    If you'd like to participate in this relief effort you can:

    - Educate yourself on Katrina and Katrina relief efforts. The ever evolving Wikipedia article on Katrina is a great place to start. The many news links listed under "Katrina News" on the KatrinaGrace website is a good source of information. And Douglas Brinkley's expansive The Great Deluge is a helpful first out of the gate overview.

    - Pray.

  • Ask that God would help Trinity and Compassion staffers as day after day, week after week, and month after month they work together with those whose lives have been turned upside down by the storm.

  • Ask God to give Compassion wisdom as they prioritize Work Requests.

  • Ask that God would help those whom Trinity/Compassion are practically helping would turn to God and rely on Him more fully.

  • Pray for the people of Trinity Church and for their recovery from this trauma. Their pastor, Michael Sprague, says that they've lost 30% of their members who evacuated and will never return. One church member shared with us how hard it was for friend after friend after friend to leave in the weeks and months after Katrina.

  • Pray that the leaders of KatrinaGrace would have the wisdom for the most optimal and effective use of the funds that the people of Grace Community Church and others have provided.

  • Ask that God would protect the New Orleans Metro Area and the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama Gulf Coasts from hurricanes this season. The season began while we were in Covington and ends in November.

  • - We still have July and November teams heading to Trinity. It's likely we will do two more trips this year at some point before November. If you are interested in any of these trips, please email Stephen. It seemed that most of the folks on the Work Teams last week were repeats. Once you go, you'll want to go back.

    - The Team V Leader, Patty Westland, and her husband are donating a trailer to Trinity and driving it down in just a couple of weeks. They are accepting donations of much needed materials that can be used by the Compassion/Trinity Work Teams that they plan to take down with them or buy there. Click here for more information if you'd like to help.

    - If you'd like to donate money that can be used to send more folks to Louisiana to volunteer on Work or Compassion Teams, just send a check to

    attn: Treasurer

    Grace Community Church

    8200 Old Columbia Rd

    Fulton, MD 20759

    and in the note space just put "for KatrinaGrace"


    if you go to Grace, you can put the check so noted in the offering basket when it comes around. Additional money enables us to send more folks on more trips to help and so far we've not only filled every announced trip but have actually had to turn some folks away.

    Pictures from the Trip

    Lower 9th Ward Pics

    Slidell, LA Pics

    New Orleans Marina Area Pics

    Louisiana People and Visitors

    Misc Pictures

    If these links don't work, try

    Lower 9th Ward Pics

    Slidell, LA Pics

    New Orleans Marina Area Pics

    Louisiana People and Visitors

    Misc Pictures

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    Help Relief Workers in the New Orleans Area!

    We just received this from Patty Westland who was the Team Leader of the April 2006 KatrinaGrace Team V (a Cooking Team) who travelled to the New Orleans Area:

    Patty & Perry Westland
    P.O Box 143
    Fulton, MD 20759
    (301) 604-5420

    Dear Family and friends,

    I’m writing to tell you about my latest adventure in life.

    I went on my first mission trip to Covington, Louisiana to help Katrina victims. It is about an hour from the French Quarter.

    I volunteered to be the team leader (surprise!) of a 5 man cooking team. We fed 66 workers that were there to muck houses. Mucking is the emptying of ones home of all its mud, personnel belongings, walls, and flooring that has been rotting there for 7 months (including, freezers and refrigerators yuck). It was a trip, a real eye-opener for all of us.

    Everyone here seems to think that because Mardi Gras and the Superdome are operational, life is back to normal. Well, it’s far from that! It is just getting started. It is so difficult to describe what these people are going through. You just can’t imagine it, until you have walked the roads of the destruction. It is now 7 Months later and community after community, after community, is still in ruins. It looks like a war zone. I still can’t believe it looks like that. It is unbelievable that, here in the USA, people are struggling to put their lives back together. People all around me ask:”Why would they want to go back?” All I can say is, it’s their home. They are fighting with the insurance companies to see who will pay. “Oh no!” says the hurricane insurance company, “it was caused by a flood.” And of course the flood insurance says it was caused by the hurricanes. ... It is an unending mess.
    We worked with a non-profit organization called “EFCA- Compassion Ministries-Katrina Relief” that works with Trinity Church in Covington, Louisiana. People volunteer from all over the United States and Canada to help. Trinity is where the supplies are kept, the food is cooked and volunteers sleep. We slept on the floor and showered in the portable outdoor showers. Volunteers who stay here must pack up their belonging twice a week, for scheduled meetings in the building... Some people find a new calling in life and stay to help. They realize the depth of the devastation and the great need for help.

    Perry and I along with my parents Jack and Dee have decided to donate a travel trailer that we own together. The trailer will provide desperately needed sleeping quarters for people who stay long term. I am writing to ask you to help us fill the trailer. We will be taking the donated items to Louisiana. If you are able to help fill the trailer- it would be great. The easiest thing to travel with is gift cards from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Shell gas and Wal-Mart. We are also looking for the following items:

    · N95 dust masks with exhalation valve Safety glasses
    · Duct tape/Drywall tape Hand sanitizer
    · Work gloves/ladies work gloves Heavy duty forks, knives, spoons
    · Paper towels in bulk Septic approved toilet paper
    · Heavy duty paper plates Large tarps

    I will be collecting items the week of the June 5th thru June 11.

    Call for pick up.

    You can mail checks made out to EFCA Compassion-Katrina relief and gift cards to

    Katrina Bound
    Po Box 143
    Fulton, Md 20759

    If you want more information about the organization go to [the EFCA Compassion Katrina Page].

    Please keep us in your thoughts.

    Yours truly,

    Patty, Perry, PJ and Kris