In 1993, I visited Biloxi with my wife. We couldn't get on the Base where I was born, but we did see the church house that I was blessed in. The actual house that we lived in was no longer there (it is now a part of a Hospital Parking Lot). However, the houses in that neighborhood looked a lot like the one in the picture above.
There is a gentle upward slope from the beach to the where our old house once stood. I'm not too sure if it would have been high enough to avoid the 30 foot storm surge or not. If not -- my old neighborhood probably looks something like this.
As a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, I feel a strong attachment toward those who are suffering along the Gulf Coast. As of today (Sept. 4th) several hundred Katrina victims who have already arrived in Salt Lake City for temporary relocation. I understand that the State of Utah has agreed to welcome some 2,000 refugees (thus far) from Louisiana and Mississippi to the Salt Lake City area. Our family is looking forward to volunteerng or providing some other direct service to these displaced people, in addition to contributions to the church humanitarian fund, and participating in blood drives.
As part of our homeschool, we like to include service projects as part of our curriculum. By taking to the opportunity to provide direct service to these displaced individuals, we hope to provide some valuable lessons in service and compassion that will have a lasting impact upon our children.
In an earlier post, I made a plea for donations for victims of Hurricaine Katrina. The charity that I have been sponsoring here at The Whole Note is LDS Humanitarian Services. I thought I would give a little report here on the progress of LDS Humanitarian Services:
Past experience with severe hurricanes in the Southeast prompted the Church to pre-position relief supplies in its regional storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. This preparation plus the transport capabilities of the Churchâ€™s welfare program trucking system have enabled the Church to respond quickly to meet the needs of its members and others affected by Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
Long before the hurricane even hit, the LDS Church, recognizing, the need to be prepared for hurricane related catastrophes along the Gulf coast has expanded its welfare system facilities in that area. There is a regional storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana, which is just East of the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Fortunately the storehouse weathered the storm all right, and has already been serving the needs of people in the area, whether members of the LDS church or not.
Also The church was prepared in other ways as well. By September 1st, the following had already occurred:
Fourteen truckloads of pre-positioned food, water and emergency equipment have already been delivered to Church buildings in the coastal areas devastated by Katrinaâ€™s winds, storm surge and consequent flooding. And more aid is on its way from Salt Lake City.Since that original shipment, another 12 semitruck loads of supplies was already on its way. More actions have also been taken:
"Full-time missionaries are also lending a hand by helping with the cleanup and by distributing Church relief supplies. Because communication is a challenge in the area, satellite phones have been distributed among stake presidents and other local leaders."Relief efforts continue. As soon as a more complete inventory of needs can be assessed, many teams of church members for surrounding congregations in the Southeast United States are prepared to go into the stricken areas and help with clean-up and rebuilding projects. Experience from welfare services activiities last year with the four hurricaines that hit Florida has helped the church to know how best to respond to these kinds of disasters.
"The American Red Cross and local governments in the disaster area have requested that the Church fill the order for thousands of hygiene kits, which include soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, and hand towels."
If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, I encourage you to do so. Church members can make donations at their local congregations. However, anyone can make credit card donations through the LDS Humnaitarian Services web sit as well.