Pastor Bello Shares His Experience in Katrina Torn Mississippi
***image1***On Thursday, Sept. 8, a small contingency of my church teamed together with the efforts of Bible Baptist Church, Richmond Ga., left Daniel Island, headed for Gulfport, Mississippi. We traveled in four heavily loaded vehicles, carrying everything from soap to generators. Speaking for my vehicle only, I know there was over $4500 worth of relief supplies that were donated by my little church alone. Multiply that by four and you come up with $18,000 worth of relief supplies that were distributed to the needy in two different Mississippi cities.
We arrived in Gulfport at 9 a.m. after a hard 13-hour drive. After meeting with the Gulfport Police Chaplain (Rev. Harold Payne) it was decided that we follow a military unit into the downtown area and set up a ‘stand-alone’ distribution station in the most devastated neighborhoods while the US Naval Sea Bee unit took bags of supplies house to house. These efforts proved futile as so many houses were uninhabitable and the people who were remaining were gathering at several of the six or seven distribution centers that were set up by city officials, military personnel, churches and the woodsmen of the world organization (which was taking meals to all the distribution areas and serving more than 1400 meals a day).
The Sea Bees escorted us to a local church that had not sustained very much visible damage and had a system already in place to distribute relief supplies in an orderly fashion. I informed the director of our supplies and she, Candy Anderson, quickly directed me to a spot to unload.
While my group was handing out relief supplies to individual people and families, I overheard Anderson lament that there was a substantial load of goods that really needed to go to a town called Waveland, but no way to get them there. I quickly volunteered our vehicles and staff. She gladly took me up on our offer.
After loading the newly acquired relief supplies onto our half-empty vehicles, we left Gulfport for Waveland, Mississippi. We traveled over limb-strewn roads, went through military checkpoints inching closer and closer to our destination. By the time we had traveled down hwy 603 and intersected with Hwy 90, I had counted 47 trucks and automobiles turned sideways and upside down in both ditches along side the road. Mobile homes were in the streets, sections of houses were scattered everywhere, pieces of housing insulation were draping from almost every tree that was still standing and debris of every kind was littering the ground, streets and sidewalks. At the former Winn-Dixie shopping mall where we set-up to distribute our supplies, you could see the water marks on the stores and feel the slime left by the receding waters.
The relief effort here at Waveland had only just begun with any magnitude and the people literally needed everything we could deliver. There were probably 300 people at my location and maybe another 400 at the military location. The town was literally wiped-out!
Just a closing observation, America is truly a great nation, and it’s citizens are truly a resilient people. Yet, deep down inside is that realization that we still need God, for as I handed supplies and Gospel literature to outstretched hands, their ‘thank-yous’ were almost always followed with and GOD BLESS YOU.