Eleven years ago today, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans came together to support and care for those whose lives had been torn apart by the incredible tragedy.
Today, in a similar spirit, Americans are coming together again to care for those left devastated by Hurricane Isaac, which swept across the U.S. Gulf Coast in areas severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina just seven years ago.
Hear how people have reached out to care for their neighbors in the wake of the storm's landfall nearly two weeks ago.
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“Dry your tears, and let’s start mopping this up,” Bishop Joan Powell of Love Touch Ministries exhorted her congregation on the first Sunday following Hurricane Isaac’s soaking of the U.S. Gulf Coast region.
She told her Gretna, Louisiana, congregation that God loves the persistence and resilience of the people in this region. I think God must also be pretty fond of their willingness to help their neighbors, too.
Following the service, members of the congregation distributed relief supplies delivered by World Vision to people suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Isaac. Those supplies included items such as children’s canvas shoes, blankets, hygiene kits, and food kits.
On Labor Day, they were back again, continuing to hand out supplies to people in need.
In the early days following Katrina, World Vision formed a partnership with Love Touch Ministries to deliver relief supplies to hurting people. That relationship has continued for seven years -- so while Isaac dumped many inches of rain over the Gulf Coast and knocked out power over large swathes of Louisiana and Mississippi, World Vision relied on this church to get relief supplies out to families in need.
Four days in the dark
Sharon Warner, 46, her daughter and her grandchildren were one such family. They just spent the past four days in the dark as power crews struggled to restore electricity to the region.
“We were scared,” Sharon said. “We couldn’t open the windows, because the neighborhood we live in, you can’t trust people.”
With temperatures over 90 degrees and high humidity, I can’t imagine how hot it must’ve been inside a house closed up for four days.
Sharon says the hygiene supplies she got at the church will help everyone in her family feel fresh again. She's also happy about the food kits World Vision provided.
“We threw away [all the] food that was in the refrigerator and the deep freezer,” she says.
Bishop Powell says that many people in this part of the country live in such poverty that fleeing the storm wasn’t even an option for them. “The people that I deal with, they don’t have cars. They don’t have an income,” she says.
Not taking chances
Barbara Scott is among the lucky ones with transportation. Sobs shake her whole body as she remembers Hurricane Katrina. “I can’t talk about it. It was bad,” she says.
She lost friends, her house, and everything in it. Now, seven years later, she wasn’t taking any chances with Hurricane Isaac, so she took her daughter and two grandsons and evacuated to Dallas. “It was like 14 of us in a two-bedroom house,” she says.
Before the storm hit, Barbara had stocked up on groceries, but then they fled. They only expected to be gone for a day or two, but instead they left on Monday night and returned on Saturday.
“All my food in the refrigerator was gone. I had to throw everything out. It was bad -- everything.” So World Vision’s family food kit was especially meaningful to Barbara because of what it will do for her grandchildren.
“It’ll help them. They won’t have to say, ‘Mamaw, I’m hungry tonight. They’ll enjoy, they’ll eat, and they’ll go to bed full,” she says, then pauses before saying with happiness, “Yes, they’ll be full tonight.”
Whether it’s food, hygiene supplies, a blanket, or a new pair of shoes, a gift to someone after a natural disaster can make a world of difference. It tells them that they’re not alone.
Even though the reports on Hurricane Isaac have faded from the headlines, the people here still need to know that they’re not alone as they dry their tears and start mopping up -- again.
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Read related post: 'We didn't see this coming'
Make a one-time donation to World Vision's U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States, like Hurricane Isaac. We stay on the ground long after the disaster has been forgotten by the media, providing urgent assistance and helping families rebuild their lives.