One year after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast area, Wayside Christian Mission continues to house several evacuees and to provide encouragement and referrals to many others. This summer, a large, extended family of nine made their way to Wayside Christian Mission. They are seeking to resettle in Louisville. Immediately after they lost everything to Katrina in Biloxi, Mississippi, they moved back to their original home of Mansfield, Ohio. However, after several months of struggle, they heard there were good jobs in Louisville and arrived in July. The father is already working construction, and the mother and a grown daughter are seeking employment. They are also seeking safe housing for their families of small children.
Wayside Christian Mission held a picnic on the front lawn August 29th to mark the one year anniversary of Katrina. It was a time of recognition for the tragedies they have endured and of hope for a better tomorrow. Several families who had initially stayed at Wayside and who now have housing in Louisville returned to connect with others still in the shelter. Wayside’s Down By The Wayside Choir sang several songs of hope and faith. Everyone enjoyed a Kentucky menu which included several dishes prepared by one of our Katrina guests, Kittie Monson. The evening was topped off with Kern’s Derby Pie and gift bags for all.
Earlier in the day, we received a phone call from one of our first Katrina families, Desiree Jones. Many of our readers may recall seeing Desiree and her family on the news and in several print stories last fall. Desiree and her sister, three brothers and her father, along with all their children, came to Louisville for refuge from the storm immediately following Katrina. Eventually, Desiree, her husband Johnny, their daughter Victoria and Desiree’s father, Preston Steele, Sr., returned to New Orleans hoping to rebuild their home. FEMA put a trailer out front for them to live in while the rebuilding began. However, the task is so monumental that Desiree, Victoria and Preston all live in a home they purchased in McCombs, Mississippi, one and one-half hours away. Johnny stays in the trailer and works his old job in New Orleans, working on the house when he can. After spending exorbitant amounts of money to rewire the house and put up new drywall, there still is no electric service to the area. None of the neighbors have returned. Desiree requested prayer for their family as they try to rebuild. They are so grateful for their stay at Wayside that they have become supporters of the Mission.
One of the most devastating outcomes of Katrina is the fact that so many families have been scattered across the nation. Preston Steele, Jr., has tried three times to return to New Orleans with his family. However, he remains haunted by the sounds of the children and people in the water crying for help, and cannot return there to live.
At one point, Wayside Christian Mission served as safe refuge for over 175 men, women, and children displaced by the hurricane. Through the generous support of the Louisville community, we not only provided clothing and needed items for all of these, who basically came with only the clothes on their backs, but we have also furnished forty complete homes for families staying in Louisville. Many of these folks received crisis counseling, spiritual guidance, home-cooked meals, and even haircuts from the wonderful volunteers helping at Wayside. Please remember all the men, women, and families displaced by the Hurricanes as they try to regain their lives.