Katrina roared through the Gulf in August 2005. Several Calvary Chapels from California began a relief
effort in Bay St. Louis, Missouri. They were cleaning and clearing houses, and ministering to people whose
town was largely destroyed.
Eight months later, Mary Jo’s seventh grade class from CC Sarasota joined the effort. It was hard to
believe that the hurricane had struck eight months before. There was still so much damage that it looked as
though it had occurred perhaps eight weeks ago. The town had endured a forty foot storm surge. The
flooding affected properties up to two miles inland. A seven mile stretch of beach front property was
We arrived in the evening and I met with the base leaders to find out how we would be helping. I sensed
some resistance from the leaders but figured I was misreading so I dismissed it. Our biggest role would to
plug in right at the base, cooking and cleaning so that the experienced workers (translated: big boys with
power tools) could be out in the field. My students got right to work. Marilyn Troyer became second-in-
command in the kitchen and I headed up the bathroom cleaning crew. The kids got to clean port-a-potties,
organize storage areas, prepare and serve meals, and do dishes. They all seemed to love doing the dishes.
I think it had something to do with the squirty hose. We met many interesting people. One local official had
sent his family to safety and stayed in town during the storm. Of course, all power was lost and he was not
able to contact his family for three days. No one knew if he was even alive, nor did he know if his family
was safe. He shared with tears in his eyes how terrible he felt for putting his family through that. He also
gave us a tour of some of the town and was able to tell us very personal stories of the people and places in
the area. It was very evident that his heart was broken for Bay St. Louis.
All in all, my students worked very hard. Later, I would find out that the leaders at the base weren't very
excited about having a bunch of seventh graders around. They didn't think the kids would be much help. By
the end of the week, leadership had become very impressed with and quite fond of our group. They sent us
away with prayers and blessings and many thanks, and even some sandwiches! The relief efforts became a
church plant, and today, there is a Calvary Chapel Bay St. Louis and work for the Lord is going strong.