Grateful Stories and Thankful Hearts PSAA Students Assist in Hurricane Recovery

"Warn your students that what they will encounter here in Mississippi is far worse than they could ever imagine.”

Having watched the news coverage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the PSAA students wanted to go and serve. But despite the warnings, nothing could have prepared them for their first glimpses of the utter devastation they saw.

Home after home destroyed. Street after street with nothing but rubble. Homes that looked intact from the outside, but completely saturated and ruined by the storm surge. The immediate need was removing the piles of ruined “stuff” which was visible for as far as one could see. Yet, there was also a tremendous need for encouragement and emotional support.

Everyone had a story—some tragic, and some providential. Stories were told of terrified people who scrambled into their attics to escape the rising waters, only to have to hurriedly pound holes through their roofs as the waters rose.

Some told of how they desperately clung to trees to avoid being swept away in the raging waters. Many prayers for strength and courage were offered, many tears were shed, and many new friends were made.

“It is so hard to leave, because we’re not even close to being done. There is still so much to do.” This was the resounding sentiment of all the students and sponsors as they prepared to return home after a week of unbelievable experiences.

Yes, the devastation is far worse than you could ever imagine. The images of crumpled foundations and huge piles of garbage and debris everywhere, the unmistakable smells of mold and rotting things, the sounds of noisy generators, and above all, the profound stories of survival and of broken, yet thankful hearts, will never be forgotten and will change us forever.

That is why the students have resolved to go back and serve there again someday.

February 01, 2006 / Washington Conference