A week ago, the pastor at my church asked if any of the men from the congregation were interested in collecting a load of supplies and delivering them to an undetermined area of AL or MS for Katrina victims. I called up and volunteered to drive (apparently, almost everyone volunteered to do or give something- more later on that). Because I have experince driving large vehicles, I was asked to drive the rental 24-footer to Grand Bay today.
The supplies were water, canned foods, diapers, cleaning supplies, work gloves, household sundries, and even some handmade quilts that the older ladies made to give to babies and the elderly.
On the way there, we passed no less than 10 mobile homes headed southbound on I-65 marked FEMA. There were large caravans of National Guardsmen headed all directions, utility trucks headed North, and about every third vehicle was a private relief effore or a supply load of some kind. I saw truckloads of generators, an entire flatbed of bleach, thousands of gallons of fuel in cans, and anything else you could imagine headed that way.
The preacher decided to go to a congregation in Grand Bay. When I asked him why, he said "It's a small place where the damage isn't getting publicity. They're not getting a lot of help there."
Grand Bay is 10 miles from both Bayou La Batre and Pascagoula. We delivered the supplies there, but didn't see much damage on the way in, which we were puzzled by. The lady at the local church organizing distribution said "We don't have it bad here. If you guys want to see it, you need to go through Bayou La Batre on the way out. I think that's where a lot of this will be going."
It wasn't that far out of the way, so we went. Apparently the storm surge did all the damage there. There were businesses still removing water and cleaning, houses with wrecked furniture, flotsam, trees, and the random mess associated with gutting a house piled out near the road for cleanup crews to pick up. Shrimpers and otther boats rode the surge up and were pitched into forested areas. 50 foot lond boats were bashed into the sides of buildings and thrown down in the shipyard parking lot. People were on foot everywhere. As far as "official" help, I saw one empty Humvee with no soldiers in sight, and a single Red Cross van that appeared to be taking care of minor injuries.
But what impressed me the most was the way the small town was pulling together. They weren't depending on the government to save the day. It seemed like almost every place that served food in the town was giving away free meals. All the churches were grilling out front and handing out food to anyone who wanted it. Private rental vehicles were in several parking lots passing out everything from baby clothes to cleaning supplies. This small town was pulling together and trying to help each other out. They were grateful for any help they got.
I was glad that we took the time out to see what was going on out there. It made me feel a little better about my fellow man after the mess that happend in N.O.
The way it should be, everywhere. Good Job.
You are a good man Hobbit.