|Patricia views the damage from her kitchen.
|With the help of a cash grant from OBI, Pastor Collins purchased food, water and other disaster relief supplies for his community.
Towards the end of 2005, OBI staff visited neighborhoods just outside
of New Orleans to report back to our partners on the devastation left by
Hurricane Katrina. Tracking through the rubble and debris, they found hope,
courage and a community displaying unity during the hardest of circumstances.
NEW ORLEANS, La. - “Please excuse the mess,” Patricia said. She smirked
and continued to walk up the mud-caked steps to her house where she and her
husband have lived for the past 25 years.
The house bears a spray-painted symbol showing that rescuers had already
checked it for survivors or victims. A rope hangs from the rooftop indicating
perhaps a lifeline during the storm. Inside, the scene is utter devastation.
The contents of their home are smashed and covered in a thick layer of mud.
The saturated carpet squishes under her feet as she makes her way through the
mold-infested home. Beams of light stream through a broken window and Patricia
squints to find anything salvageable. She peels a saturated photo of her son
from the back of the closet wall.
Patricia has just returned to the Lakeview section, one of the hardest-hit
areas in New Orleans. The force of Hurricane Katrina broke the levee wall and
sent floodwaters as high as her rooftop. Like so many others, she fled the city
in a hurry, taking little with her because she expected to be back in just a few
days. After three months of living in shelters and homes of friends, Patricia
is one of thousands returning home for the first time.
There are no signs of life at the entrance of her neighborhood other than a
food and water distribution station. Pastor Collins, a local pastor, erected the
tent the day before, offering residents food boxes, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs),
water and other disaster relief items.
Collins is able to make these resources available to the community thanks to
a cash grant given to his church by Operation Blessing. Cash grants are a large
part of OBI’s disaster relief efforts, allowing them to reach disaster victims at
a grassroots level – that is, through local organizations who can best identify and
assess their community’s needs. To date, OBI has awarded over $3.5 million to various
non-profit and faith-based organizations. Groups use grant money to purchase disaster
relief supplies such as food, water, clothing, construction materials, fuel and whatever
else may be needed by their community.
“I am grateful for the food and supplies,” Patricia said as she picked up a relief
box. Throughout the day, many of Patricia’s neighbors share similar stories as they
stop to gather supplies.
“What has been most encouraging is seeing the twinkle of hope come back in their eyes,”
Pastor Collins said. “They need someone to say, ‘All is not lost. You are not alone’.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can help by making an online donation toward OBI's disaster relief efforts. With your support, we can continue to provide emergency relief and recovery. Please make an on-line donation today.
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