Hurricane Gustav was the seventh storm to form during the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season. It looked as
if it was going to be a major storm and hit the Louisiana area.
We had arranged to stage in Hattiesburg, MS at Salvation. Matt from our church and I took off and
stopped in Brooksville to get some tarps,sticks, and supplies from a ministry that had stored goods from a
previous storm. We loaded our truck and trailer as full as we could get it!
We arrived in the middle of the night and couldn't seem to get anyone's attention in the Salvation Army
yard, so we slept in the truck. When we woke up in the morning, we found out that we were at the wrong
Salvation Army. There was another one across the street with a smaller sign! A lot of people had already
come in and the first bands of the storm were beginning to hit our area.
We immediately got busy helping out at the Salvation Army by organizing their makeshift warehouse and
doing some other last minute work. We worked well into the early hours of the morning and finally turned
in. As the day progressed the storm got worse.
We got up a couple of hours later and began discussing our strategy. We had already been in contact with
several CC's in Louisiana and Mississippi. We decided that Baton Rouge was in need of our help so we headed
It wasn't a nice day for a drive, but we made it in a few hours and immediately got to work cutting trees
and tarping roofs. A tree had gone through the roof of the home of an elderly couple. I was able to climb
up, remove the tree and tarp the roof just in time before a massive down pour started.
We stayed at a local Baptist church and found that some of the members from CC Houma had evacuated
there from the storm. Not expecting the storm to hit Baton Rouge, they didn't bring a lot of supplies.
There were eighteen people, ranging from a newborn to an elderly couple, along with a couple of dogs. We
were able to help provide food, water and gas for them. I also travel with a projector, screen and DVD
player and was able to set this up for the kids to watch movies to help occupy their time. Part of the group
went out the next day to help us serve others! The following day they left for home as their town was
We headed out to work with CC on the Bayou and cleared a lot of trees as well as rebuilt a wall that had
been destroyed on a mobile home.
In the mean time, Brady and Bubba, relief friends from Texas, drove in to scout things out. They brought
their cook trailer with them. There was a small church, Streams of Life, across the street from where we
were staying and we ended up connecting with them. Brady and Bubba set up their cook trailer to serve
meals. Streams of Life warehouses a lot of items and they supply items to different ministries around
Baton Rouge. They decided to set up a distribution center. Cars lined up to receive canned goods, water,
and snacks, and a hot lunch cooked by Bubba and Brady.
We continued to work on trees and roofs. Streams of Life had electricity and they invited us to stay with
them so we packed up and headed over. There was a group of Chaplains from the Church of God
Chaplaincy program staying there as well. They all welcomed us with open arms and made sure we had
everything that we needed.
Matt had to head home on Friday so one of the helpers at Streams of Life helped me with some tree work.
Brady and Bubba had to also head home. There was still plenty of work to do and some of the Chaplains
volunteered to work with me. They were such a blessing, not only cutting and dragging, but they spiritually
ministered to many people who we were physically helping!
One evening, we helped a group from CC Baton Rouge with an outreach in the pastor's neighborhood. We
took this opportunity to collect work orders and to sign up people in the neighborhood who wanted to help.
About two hundred people showed up and everyone had a good time.
Tim from CC Costa Mesa was heading to Houma to help Pastor Jeff, the group who was staying at the
Baptist church when we arrived. They were in need of supplies so I made arrangements to take them some.
Streams of Life loaded up the truck and trailer with food, drinks and snacks and I still had some supplies
from Florida. The chaplains needed to get back to other things and this left me without help so I decided
to just go and work with Tim and his team.
When I arrived, we unloaded the trailer and decided to head into the bayou to take in food and drink
supplies that we had been given from Streams of Living Water. We arrived just before dusk and were met
by several people who gladly received the items we brought. We then headed back to CC Houma, where we
The next morning we got up and headed back to the Bayou. There was a tree on a home that needed
removed. This was not an easy task and to complicate matters, the home was surrounded in muck that the
storm had deposited and it was still wet, deep and slippery. Ed’s truck got stuck, but we managed to get
the tree cut down. We went back to Houma and helped a church family cut down and move some trees
that had been damaged. We worked until dark and headed back to Houma. The next day news of Ike
heading our way came in and some of the outer storm bands had already began to hit the coast. The bayou
was already starting to flood so we couldn’t go back there. We decided to help some local people out.
After tracking the storm we decided it would be safer for us to return to Baton Rouge so we packed up
and headed out. It was a windy and rough trip, but we made it!
We once again were welcomed by Streams of Life. We helped Troy & Craig load up supplies to be ready to
truck into the hurricane hit area once Ike passed. We also received more requests for help via Diane and
Streams of Life so we continued to cut trees and tarp roofs.
Saturday morning it was time to decide what our next move was and we decided that Texas was where to
head. We did some laundry, loaded up with supplies from Streams of Life and along with the tarps and
sticks from Florida, we headed to CC Houston. What an eerie trip, especially driving through Houston with
no lights on anywhere!
We were quickly waved through all security check points and were the first to arrive at CC Houston. No
one was there to meet us so we decided to get some sleep. A few others showed up as I was honkering
down in the back of our truck!
Sunday morning when we got up a lot of more relief had shown up, Committed Relief, CC La Habra, brought
in a cook trailer, supply trailer and they were leading the camp. We got up, fixed breakfast and took off to
tarp some roofs. Most of the crew was done by late afternoon, but I decided to go out and see what else
could be done. I found an elderly couple who had a huge tree that needed cut down and cut up. I managed
to get it cut into small enough pieces for them to take to the curb just as it was getting dark.
A lot of help was showing up at CC Houston and things seemed to be under control. In the mean time I was
asked if I could come to Beaumont, Tx to help feed first responders breakfast and dinner. There was a
huge camp where the National Guard, Texas Rangers, Texas Highway Patrol and many more were staying
and they needed to be fed.
I got up on Monday morning and was given more supplies from Committed Relief and took off. I was about
out of fuel and knew I needed to get to Beaumont before I ran out, not to mention I was needed to help
cook dinner! With virtually no electricity anywhere around, gas would be hard to come by. But the Lord
had other things in mind for me!
I felt drawn to go back to the neighborhood where I was working on the elderly couples home the night
before. I immediately began giving out food and water to many people, this was a poorer neighborhood and
most of them didn't have any supplies. I pulled into a cul-de-sac and another elderly lady agreed to take
some water. As I was unloading the water I noticed her husband trying to cut down a tree with a hand
saw! I asked her if I could assist them with my chainsaw and she replied my angel has arrived and gave me
a huge hug! A neighbor came over and helped us and 45 minutes later it was cut and stacked by the road
and I was on my way.
By now my fuel situation had gotten much worse and I was further away then when I was at the church! I
prayed for God to provide as I drove past a few gas stations with longer lines than they had gas or I had
time to wait in. I came across some that had only a few cars in line, only to find out that they were waiting
in hopes for a fuel supply truck sometime later that day, but I had to press on. I headed out I-10 and my
fuel light came on. I still had 20 gallons in reserve in the back of the truck and was preparing to pull over
and use it. All of the sudden I passed a station on the other side of the road that only had a short line of
cars at it. I thought, they must be waiting for a fuel truck, just like the others. But then I thought I saw
someone pumping gas, or was it a mirage, after all I was traveling 70 miles an hour down the interstate?
I determined to head on and pull over to use my reserve. Then I heard God say, turn around, I have fuel
for you back at the station you just passed. Before I could determine what to do there was an emergency
turn around in the highway so I turned around and headed back.
Sure enough, they had just gotten a fuel truck! The line was short and they had a BBQ joint inside. By the
time I got a sandwich and ate it, it was my turn to pump gas. I got me gas and got on down the road
.If I hadn't listened to God and helped the people in Houston before I left, I would've been by the station
before the fuel truck arrived and if I hadn't listened and turned around I would never have gotten fuel.
There was no fuel in Beaumont when I arrived!
I immediately got to work fixing dinner. We had some really great volunteers who helped us. It was truly
amazing to have the opportunity to serve these men and women who were entrenched in the search and
rescue operations in TX. Most of them had deployed on Friday or Saturday and had been eating k-rations
up to this point. This was their first hot meal in days and we always make it good! They were all very
appreciative. One soldier walked up and handed us his cell phone. It was the soldier's wife and she wanted
to thank us for taking care of her husband! We had many opportunities to talk and share with the soldiers
and even had some time of prayer with many of them! We'd start the day at about 2 AM, going to the
church warehouse and loading supplies for breakfast. By 6 AM we were feeding breakfast. Whatever was
left over, we loaded into my truck and a few of us took off to the harder hit and poorer areas and handed
out hot breakfasts. We'd finish up around noon and be able to sleep for an hour or so, but then had to be
back at the warehouse around 1 or so and start all over for dinner again. We served around 300 meals per
By Thursday things were winding down and it was determined that our services would no longer be needed
after breakfast on Friday as most of the men were heading home. I skipped helping with breakfast as it
was going to be a smaller amount of people being served, but had to go in and tear the trailer down and
move it back to the church. As we were cleaning up a leader from the army asked us to line up. I thought
we were getting our picture taken so I got in line. It turned out that the army was coining us, a ceremony
that is usually reserved for enlisted personnel. It was quite an honor!
By lunch time we were finished and I was packed and ready to head home, I'd been gone for three weeks!
I got about an hour down the road and realized I was exhausted, so I pulled over at a rest area and
climbed in the back of the truck and slept for a few hours. I got up and drove until about midnight,
actually running out of gas once as many stations were closed due to low fuel production in TX. But of
course, I had my reserve and filled up enough to get to a station that had gas. I pulled over and slept in
the truck until morning and then headed home.
All together we worked on over 22 homes with over 46 volunteers in Louisiana and Houston and we
prepared over 2000 meals in Beaumont. It was a lot of work and running around and God met our needs
110% of the time and kept us fresh and new throughout the whole process as we shared Jesus and His love