When we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina we kept of journal of what was going on with folks and what God was doing. Our website has changed a great deal since then but we still wanted to have it available.
Evacuation Journal... Our First Month
Friday, September 30:
Today Laura Ferguson was able to spend the day with the Deadra Williams family in Jackson, MS. It was a time of sharing and encouragement. All the kids are in school and adjusting well.
Thursday, September 29:
Tyrone Christoph and Keira Johnson ................ and Jerome Oatis and Tykesha Bickham will be getting married October 29th, 2005!
We are all very excited. This is something to look forward to.
Wednesday, September 28:
Please pray for Tammy Davis, she has been battling cancer for the past 3 months. The doctors are concerned that the cancer is spreading. Please pray that when she has a biopsy on Friday that it would come out negative. Her daughter is joining her tomorrow. Please pray that the visit would be great. Please also pray for our leadership as they try to provide Tammy and her family with the best care and support available.
Wow, we can hardly believe that it is one month to the day that we arrived in Hot Springs Village, AR. Tired, hungry and a little worse for wear 70+ fell out of vans and the bus into the entryway of Village Bible Church. Words cannot express the love, grace, and humble service members of Village Bible Church, and others (literally) around the world have shown all of us. The gifts of money, food, clothing, furniture, cars to borrow, rides into town, paying doctors bills, buying medicine, and the encouraging notes have turned our eyes toward heaven in thanksgiving. We praise you father for your saints.
Michael Robinson had a great meeting with the Superintend of Orleans Parish Schools. She is very excited about partnering with Urban Impact, Trinity Church, and EFCA's Compassion Ministries. We have offered to do whatever we can.
God note: the acting superintendent was Michael Robinson's Junior High Principal in Dallas.
Pastor John has also reported that they had a profitable meeting with Oliver Thomas, the President of the Orleans Parish City Council. Oliver Thomas expressed excitement and wants to explore the possibilities of a partnership with Urban Impact. God is answering prayer folks! .
Tuesday, September 27:
Yeah!! We found Ms. Marie an elderly member of CRCC. We are so thankful she is safe.
Today a work team was able to go into Pastor John's and our Worship Pastor Tre's homes. They will be salvaging whatever they can, and then tearing out whatever is damaged. Please pray for safety as these teams work in some dangerous situations. We praise God for the people he has called to come and help during this time.
Monday, September 26:
Pastor John left this morning for New Orleans. He will be meeting with Jim Snyder Director of Compassion Ministries for the EFCA, and trying to set up meetings with Renee Gill Pratt and Oliver Thomas our two City Councilmen. Pastor John is also hoping to meet with Mayor Ray Nagin. Please pray that Pastor John would be able to get appointments with these New Orleans leaders.
Sunday, September 25:
We received some bad news today. Scott and Melanie Lundeen were able to go into Sandy Lee's apartment. It's not good. While at first Sandy thought her apartment would be fine, in actuality the roof was damaged and it has been raining into her apartment. Everything is covered in mold and is a total loss.
Saturday, September 24:
Today Dante' Upshaw the Director of African-American Ministries for the EFCA arrived to meet and counsel with Pastor John.
Friday, September 23:
Michael Robinson traveled to Atlanta today to meet with several community organizations that have experience rebuilding inner-city communities.
Wednesday, September 21:
Tonight we will all come together for our weekly community meal. Today is John and Wendy Gerhardt's 20th Anniversary, we will have cake tonight to celebrate with them. Scott and Melanie will be trying to get some much needed rest the next couple of days.. Please pray that they will kick back and be blessed with some great sleep and down time.
Tuesday, September 20:
What a great day! Today we were able to find several members of Castle Rock Community Church. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement.
God is giving us a clearer picture of his vision for the future. We are in the process of finalizing our plans to buy property in the Central City of NO to house the poor. Our greatest fear is that just as the poor were left in the city, they will be left out of NO when they want to return. The economic forces that will come to bear on our neighborhood will be great. Please pray for discernment and for vital contacts in the business, government and non-profit arenas.
Monday, September 19:
God just keeps on blessing us!!!!!!
A team from OH, VA and IL patched Castle Rock's roof today. Thanks gang! With the new tropical weather moving into the Gulf, their help was perfectly timed. (see picture below) These teams going into New Orleans are being Coordinated through Mark Louis the head of Compassion Ministries for the Evangelical Free Church. If you are interested in sending a group to help in the restoration process then you can go to www.efca.org for more information. Just click on the first paragraph about hurricane Katrina and then click on the "organize a crisis response team". You will be able to print out a form that will tell you exactly what to do. If you have sent a team to work with us in the past, then please make a note of that on your application. You can even send an extra page detailing what your work teams have done in the past. Compassion ministries has said they would appreciate having that type of information.
A 30 foot travel trailer that will be used to house staff in New Orleans (Tre' Pennington's family will use it first while their home is renovated) and a car to be used to transport our folks here in AR arrived.
Our students are adjusting to school and seem to have begun to catch on to the fact that God has blessed them with a school that is willing to work for and with them. Please continue to pray for their emotional, educational and cultural adjustment.
Sunday, September 18:
What a great Sunday. We had our first Castle Rock Community Church service! It was great getting the band together and worshiping God. What a blessing it was to sing our favorite songs and worship together. Our prayer time was especially moving as we praised God for all His blessings and offered prayers for family and friends who are in need of help or still missing. Pastor John preached on reaching for God's destiny in our lives.
Saturday, September 17:
This was the first weekend since the storm for relaxation. Many people took a trip into Little Rock to go to the 50 cent movie theater. Others relaxed and watched football games. Tre and Kevalyn Pennington and their daughter Kailyn have joined us for the first Castle Rock Community Church worship service since evacuating from the hurricane. Tre was able to go back into New Orleans and see their house. It's not good, they had three to four feet of water in the entire house. Please pray as we try to get a team in as soon as possible to tear out all that is ruined in the hopes of saving the rest of the house.
Friday, September 16:
Pastor John called today to report that his home had 7 to 8 feet of water in the bottom level of his home. He and Michael Robinson with a little gagging were able to clean out the refrigerator. Everything in the lower level is a total loss, and the clean-up is going to be a big job.
Thursday, September 15:
Today the Urban Impact staff met together for the first time since the evacuation. It was a time of pizza (always important!), sharing of information, and prayer. Pastor John left late tonight to go to New Orleans, this will be the first time he has been able to go see the condition of his house.
Wednesday, September 14:
Today Bykota Church from Carthage, MO came with a truck filled with items for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. We were able to go on the truck and pick items out that we needed. What a wonderful blessing not only to us here in Hot Springs Village, but to others as they move from shelter to shelter.
Today we had our weekly community meal and meeting. Now that everyone is in temporary housing it's great to be able to get together. Pastor John, Wendy and the kids arrived back in time to join us, and encourage us with good news from their trip. We are once again blown away by God's providence and the encouragement we are receiving in all forms, from all over the country.
Tuesday. September 13:
Several of those who evacuated with us have left to join family in other parts of the country. While we will miss not having them here with us, it is important for family to be together in these difficult days.
We finally got phones hooked up in our office today!!!! The office number is 501-922-6820 and the fax number is 501-922-6821.
We are beginning to see a pattern develop that may resemble a more normal life. The kids are all in school and seem to be adjusting for the most part. The adults have been into Hot Springs to the Red Cross shelter to sign up for whatever assistance is available. The UIM/CRCC staff has been shuttling them here and there so that important paperwork can be filled out.
We are still investigating employment options for many of the adults. A few have found jobs - some are waiting to interview.
Scott Lundeen, Michael Robinson, Tyrone Christoph, and Neil Baumgardner left late last night to return to New Orleans. They will be bringing back a couple of vehicles as well as some office equipment from Castle Rock. Scott and Michael will continue to work the necessary channels to put us at the forefront of going back to rebuild our neighborhood.
Sunday, September 11:
Today we attended church with our Village Bible friends. It is great to get to share in worship with these dear brothers and sisters. The church family here continues to shower us with their love and generosity!
This evening a large number of our group attended a "Hurricaid" concert in Hot Springs. This was a benefit concert with the proceeds being divided amongst all of the evacuees in this area. We are not sure what that will mean for us, but the concert was fun.
Saturday, September 10:
Today we sponsored a FREE car wash for all the attendees of Village Bible Church and any one else in this retirement development. This was our way of showing our appreciation and gratitude for all they have done for us. While only a token expression, it was great to see our group - young and old - pitching in and cleaning cars!
A note from Scott: We want you to know that we come back from New Orleans overwhelmed with HOPE. Our partnership with Food for the Hungry continues to develop and will be finalized this week. Melanie and I, along with Michael Robinson, have been meeting with representatives from FH and coordinating with John Gerhardt to develop plans for the long-term development of our neighborhood - getting people back into homes and continuing their growth and discipleship. We return this week to continue the work.
Our God brings beauty from ashes, and He is doing a new thing in our church and community. Thank you for your prayers and partnership. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13.
Friday, September 9:
We are beginning to find a rhythm to our life here in Arkansas. Crisis have been fewer, things a little less crazy, and much needed work in the UIM begriming to be done. Joan Hathaway, our office manager, has joined us after evacuating to her daughter's home near Dallas, TX. We still don't have a phone system installed - won't have until Monday afternoon. We will publish our phone and fax number here on the web site as soon as we have them up and working.
We continue to be amazed at the out pouring of love and support for our ministry from people here in Hot Springs Village and from around the country. Today UPS delivered 29 boxes of clothes from a lady in Arizona!! While we greatly appreciate everyone's generosity, please DO NOT ship us boxes of clothing with out first contacting us. The load today "swamped" the little space we have in our office for donated materials.
Of great excitement to the ministry of Urban Impact is the partnership that is being formed with the international relief agency, Food For The Hungry. Scott Lundeen is the point person for working with them. Scott and a representative from that agency have made several trips into New Orleans this past week to survey the damage and begin to strategically plan how we will go back and rebuild our neighborhood. This is an outstanding opportunity for UIM. There will be more information about this next week.
Thursday, September 8:
The Gerhardt family left today for some much needed R&R.
The second day of school went smoother than the first. Our kids are beginning to fit in. We have established an unbelievably great relationship with the administration of the Jessieville, AR school system. Mike Babst, our education director joined us today, with his family, and he will be our liaison with the school and coordinator of our kids school needs.
We have continued to research and apply for all the assistance programs that our evacuees qualify for. Getting accurate information is sometimes difficult - we are all learning a lesson in patience! Laura Ferguson has also rejoined us and this area of finding assistance and what our families qualify for has been added to her responsible.
Most of the families are pretty well settled in their homes. We are working at filling their "needs". Village Bible Church continues to go above and beyond the call of duty in assisting us and providing for us. They deserve a huge standing "O"!
Wednesday, September 7:
Today we enrolled kids in the Jessieville, AR school. Things seemed to go pretty well for the first day.
It was also a day of getting caught up on some correspondence, doing interviews for several publications, and continuing to get our office set up. We also had a crew working on getting our mass mailing ready to send out - you should receive it early next week if you are already on our mailing list.
We did receive some discouraging news today about Castle Rock. Scott Lundeen, who has been in the city the past few days, did a closer inspection of the facility and discovered some roof damage that is allowing water to come into the building. Please pray for no rain! We won't be able to do anything about making repairs until we are able to take a team back into New Orleans.
Several of our ladies have already secured employment. This will be a major focus now that people are settled in their homes.
Pray for the Gerhardt family as they are leaving early Thursday morning for a much needed break. They will be back with us next Thursday.
Tuesday, September 6 :
More good news on people! Deadra Williams family is found, Samantha Collins family is found. Briceshanay is found. Tiffany, Sascha, Teanna and Emanuel are found. We still have others we are concerned about. Please continue to pray.
Today we met with the Supt. of the Jessieville school district. They are willing to take our kids and enroll them in school. This process will begin tomorrow. There is some apprehension on the part of some of our kids as they are afraid that they might not be at the same level as the others in their grade or fit in culturally. Please pray for them and their adjustment.
Everyone is in their rental house. Our next goal is finding jobs. Please pray for God's favor.
We worked at getting our office space set up. We have been given 1200 sq ft, in a strip mall next to Village Bible Church, rent free. We have also been given a phone system to use (our office phone won't be operational until sometime Thursday) and a copy machine for minimal rent. Praise the Lord!
Monday, September 5:
More great news. Scott Lundeen, got into New Orleans and found that Castle Rock is just like we left it! The Yellow House is high and dry. Most our staff homes are fine except Pastor John's which has at least 8 feet of water and Tre' Pennington, our worship director, has at least 5 feet of water.
Today we took everyone to a local amusement park. Magic Springs provided free admittance to all victims of hurricane Katrina. While everyone came home tired, they enjoyed the rides and the water park that was included. It was a good opportunity for some fun and a chance to get their minds off of things back in New Orleans.
We also worked at getting people settled in their new homes. Most are pretty well set up with the necessities. Having their own space should help bring some resemblance of normality. Please pray for the funding for renting these homes - $10-12,000 per month.
Sunday September 4, AM :
Great news this morning. Edward Alfred, a member of our church who is in the National Guard, walked around the neighborhood. There was no major damage to Castle Rock or the Yellow House. It looked as if there was no water damage and that maybe no one had looted. We want to remind you that with all accounts it is easy to get confused. However, besides people getting out, this is the best news we have heard. We still don't know about staff homes. Pastor John and Wendy's house did get severe flood damage for sure. Please praise God with us for He is worthy of our praises.
Saturday, September 3:
It has been a day of good and bad news. The good news: Winston's mom is safe. I wish you could have seen his face when she called. Tim is safe and actually going back to his offshore job. Louis, Rosemary and Lucinda are safe. Dingo is safe and in Dallas. Barbara, Bertha's daughter, is safe. Erma is out and safe. Dirk, Michelle's husband is safe. Eric's mom is safe. We are trying to reunite them with family here or where ever they are. The bad news: Robin Turner's grandmother passed away in a hospital while evacuating. (We are reuniting Robin with her family on Sunday) We still haven't heard from: Briceshanay, Hope, Faith and Henry, Tiffany, Sascha, Teanna and Emanuel, Henry and Jennifer Bruce, and Monica's father. There are others but these are the ones heavy on our mind. Please continue to pray for them without ceasing.
The stress and strain is starting show on the staff. Many of us have gotten very little sleep. Our concentration tomorrow is getting our staff in their homes and settled. Please continue to pray for us. Your prayers are up holding us in a very difficult time.
Friday, September 2:
Today 13 housing units were secured for our families. Moving our people into their own space will help them to get some sort of normalcy back into their lives. Several of the family units were moved in by Friday evening, others will move on Saturday. Our host families have been awesome and sacrificial - but we don't want to impose on them or be a burden to them. During the day our folk were allowed to just "chill". For supper we went to a beautiful park just outside of Hot Springs for a picnic and then went to an outdoor musical on the life of Christ called the Witness - very well done!
Thursday, September 1:
Continued activities for kids and families-- this time back to community center for basketball, mini-golf, tennis, swings, spelling bee, etc. Staff and evacuation team working hard to address individual needs ranging from medicine to clothing; many continue to try reach family and friends - always a huge relief when someone gets through. We are working with Village Bible Church to find long-term housing, job, and education options for families. May start kids at local school. As always, evening meal and meeting at the church.
Wednesday, August 31:
Like you, we are continuing to realize the staggering implications of this storm for our city. We went swimming at a nearby beach; families had a great time. In the evening we joined Village Bible Church for their Wednesday night Bible study. The pastor shared 2 Chronicles 20 with us -- Jehoshaphat's response to an overwhelming report. During prayer time, members of our group came forward to light candles for individuals they were thinking and worried about back home -- the flood to the stage was sobering.
Tuesday, August 30:
As reports continued to pour in about the destruction in New Orleans, we gave kids a chance to play at the Boys and Girls Club and we all took a trip into Hot Springs in the afternoon. All of this, and of course all of the hosting and meals, has been coordinated by the people of Village Bible Church. They have been incredible. Meal, meeting, and prayer at night.
Monday, August 29:
We met for supper and a meeting after spending our days with our host families. For the first time we were able to see and hear reports after the storm, bringing concern for family and friends.
Sunday, August 28:
After breakfast, we had a meeting and then a church service with a message from John Perkins. After a sandwich lunch we began preparing to leave and were out of Jackson by 5:00. Most drivers were going on 2 hours of sleep or less. We arrived in Hot Springs Village at about 2:00 am and divided our now-67 people into host homes.
Saturday, August 27:
After realizing the potential severity of the upcoming storm, we prepared our facilities, called church families, and evacuated the city that night at 12:30 am. We arrived in Jackson, Mississippi about 4:00 and stayed with John Perkins and his ministry center.