By Harold "Sandy"
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, my wife, Oraine, suggested that we send a check to Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR). I agreed, but added that I wanted to go to Biloxi as an LDR volunteer. Several days later, my long-time friend Bobby Raidline and I were headed to Biloxi, Mississippi, with a loaded-to-the roof motor home and a small car.
A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, contributed the motor
home and car for us to leave in Biloxi. We had accumulated donations from
many caring individuals and organizations, and the motor home and car were
packed with goods. I had chosen not to tow the car with the motor home,
so needed a second driver. Bobby volunteered and was a gift worth his weight
Bobby and I left Hecktown
at 5 a.m. on Monday, September 12, and completed the 1,248-mile trip to
Bethel Lutheran Church, Biloxi,
at noon on Wednesday,
September 15. We had an excellent trip on several major interstates
and had only one blowout on the car and experienced only one
traffic delay near Biloxi due to Katrina storm damage on the famous
In Biloxi, both vehicles
were titled to the Rev. Gerald Bultman, pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church.
Pastor Bultman is chair of the
The Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Biloxi. He will see that both
vehicles are put
to good and frequent use.
Bethel Lutheran Church
sustained damage to the roof, but otherwise was not seriously damaged.
The Bethel Distribution Center is located
church social hall. This center offers water in various sized bottles
(water is in great demand because the Biloxi water system is currently
contaminated). It also provides nonperishable food items and household
supplies of all
types. The health clinic, in the church's library, is operated
by a volunteer doctor and several nurses. All services and supplies
provided free of charge.
Most victims had extensive
damage to their homes; many lost their homes completely. Teams of volunteers
from Bethel Lutheran Church
volunteers like Bobby and me are currently aiding in the clean
up of storm damage for those victims whose homes are repairable.
were lost in the Biloxi, Gulfport, and Long Beach area, an area
comparable to the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area.
The cleanup in the Biloxi
area will take many months and lots of effort. The unfortunate storm victims — and
there are many — will need
continuous aid and supplies. Bethel Lutheran Church continues
to distribute a tractor trailer load of food and supplies each day as
well as operating
the medical clinic. These supplies are being provided by LDR
and other local community and church organizations, as well as groups,
from states as far away as Pennsylvania, Washington, Maine,
Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, and California.
The heavy rains of
Hurricane Rita aggravated the Katrina damage to the temporarily repaired
roof. The volunteers at Bethel
are currently working
hard to secure the roof.
Bobby and I returned
home by plane on Wednesday, September 21, avoiding Rita, another nasty
storm affecting our Gulf
The eight days of volunteer
service with Lutheran Disaster Response were a wonderful experience, offering
and lows. The
folks who received the various services and supplies were
extremely appreciative. We shared many tears and expressions
I plan a return trip
to Bethel Lutheran Church as an LDR volunteer in mid-November, returning
to Hecktown by November
22. We are
also looking at ways we at Trinity can continue to help
our sister congregation,
Lutheran Church, in Biloxi, Mississippi.
My heartfelt thanks
and appreciation go to the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Hecktown,
our interim pastor,
and my very helpful
and supportive wife, Oraine. Thanks, too, to friends
and relatives for their generous financial support,
donations for the victims,
prayers, and words
of encouragement. Without all of this support, our
trip and help to the victims would not have been possible.
If you have any questions
or want to learn more about our trip, you may contact me at 610.759.0923
or 610.442.4394 (cell),
email me at email@example.com.
(The author, Harold “Sandy” R.
Roth Jr., and his wife, Oraine, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church,
Hecktown. Sandy retired four
years ago from Lucent Inc., after 40 years of service.
Currently he works at Caring
Connection, Inc., as a caregiver for seniors and
as a board member.)