This email message was just sent to all members of our parish:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Many of us are watching with increasing agony and horror the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It seems as though every news report from the affected areas of Louisiana, Missisippi and Alabama is worse. We cannot let our neighbors’ suffering go unattended, and many of you are asking, “What can we do?”
First: go to Episcopal Relief and Development http://er-d.org and make a donation of whatever amount you can. ERD works directly with Episcopal churches in the affected areas and has the structure in place to get aid down there immediately. They are also coordinating with the Lutherans in the vicinity.
Second: spend tomorrow (Friday, September 2) in prayer and fasting for the victims and the workers trying to help them. Keep a prayer vigil. Pray the Jesus Prayer with every breath you take: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on our brothers and sisters.” For every hour you spend watching TV, spend an hour in prayer. Fast from lunch and give the money you would have spent to ERD.
Third: tell friends, neighbors and co-workers about this effort. Let’s not just talk about this dreadful wound to our nation, let’s DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, then surely our combined efforts in giving and praying can work miracles.
S.C., our former parish administrator, moved to Fairhope, AL (on the Gulf) last year, and now works with FEMA. She sent me this detailed prayer request last night:
1.. V.H., retired FBI and currently working with me at FEMA. His two daughters, their husbands and children lost their homes and everything they had, including their jobs in New Orleans. Volney lost his family home in N.O. His fianc√© lives in N.O. and lost her home and job. Her parents are still missing. It has been confirmed that the parent’s home is gone and that they were to evacuate to another city in Ms, but that town was wiped out too.
2.. There are several hundred refugees being housed at Camp Baldwin. These are people who have lost everything they have. If they have any money in banks, they can’t get at it. They are in a state of severe panic and depression. They are desperate and scared. My team has been assigned to interview them one by one and find out what they need and to let them talk through their grief. United Way told us they would pay for bus tickets if they had anywhere to go to, like with relatives, etc. Also, Catholic Social Services is helping to find them more permanent housing. All of the agencies are helping .. but things move very slowly. Please pray that we have the strength to work with them and for the people to have some peace of mind.
3.. Since there is no gas to be purchased in this part of the state there are hundreds of refugees stranded on the roads. Their cars are being abandoned and slowing traffic practically to a halt. Pray for a safe resolution for these people
4.. Protect us from looting and gas siphoning. People are taking gas out of parked cars all over. It has happened to some of my team members … now they have no gas to go work with people. We are having to drive for two hours or more to get gas and I just heard that Montgomery is giving out of gas and they are three hours away.
5.. People are doing panic buying at the grocery stores and no trucks are coming in with produce and staples to replace it. Please pray for the poor who can’t afford to drive two or three hours to do their grocery shopping. Right now, there still are groceries, except for bread and milk and a few other staples. Unless trucks start coming back in this could be a bad problem.
6.. And the biggest prayer of all … SAVE NEW ORLEANS and the thousands of people who are trapped there … and for all who have died. No-one is counting the dead. The figures you hear on the news are confirmed dead and that means confirmed by a coroner.
I could go on and on … but I guess one big blanket prayer could be to send healing, safety and strength to the first responders, to our crisis counseling team, and especially to the people who are suffering or dead in these four states. AND give FEMA whatever it takes for them to cut through the red tape and get us the help we need.
I am seeing a lot of the good in people coming out … people who want to do whatever to help out.
Thank you so much.