The last two weeks have been a blur. I worked a men’s retreat the weekend of August 26-28. There was a hurricane moving into the Gulf of Mexico so my husband, who works at a TV station, had to stay home to help with the round the clock weather coverage activities at the station. By Sunday night the storm, which had been headed for Panama City, had moved further west and was targeting the Mississippi- Louisiana border area. As it turned out, Hurricane Katrina landed a glancing blow to the New Orleans/ Grand Isle area of New Orleans as she bounded into land at Biloxi. The devastation has been widespread. It is the worst case scenario for New Orleans, which is likely to be unlivable for next 6-12 months. Friends have family who’ve lost everything. We in the deep Gulf Coast south are devastated at the losses and the grief that accompanies them. Thousands are said to be dead, but the count has hardly begun as people are still being rescued and relocated a week later.
Where do we go from here? How do so many move on with life? One day at a time. One meal at a time. One helpful gesture at a time. I know no other way. There’s no scenario that anyone can anticipate further down the road than today for most of these people. And yet, we are beginning to hear some hopeful stories- an evacuee couple wed at Whitfield UMC in Montgomery, AL who have decided to stay there and make it their home. Other families in temporary quarters enrolling children in the local schools where they find themselves. In spite of the hardship and grief, people go back to doing the things that matter- giving themselves to one another in marriage and getting kids back on a schedule that includes education.
I pray that there will be more good things to come, stories that will inspire us and show us the resiliency and courage of the human heart. So far many of the stories coming out of New Orleans have been of the depravity, the cruelty, the savagery of those who didn’t evacuate and found themselves in desparate conditions. It’s opened up some old conversations about race, poverty, response to disaster, etc. I trust that these conversations will lead to truth and better preparation and solutions in the future.