Our recon to the Northshore went well. We
left at 6:30 a.m. and headed down east on Hwy 84 to Summit
and then southbound on I-55 where we connected eastbound at I-12.
We had no trouble getting into the Mandeville/Covington, Slidell
, and Pearl River
Many electricity company bucket trucks were rolling down the roads in military fashion and the parking lots of Home Depot / Lowe’s were filled with flatbeds, pickups, and citizens looking for
materials to begin the repairs needed to reoccupy their homes.
A few grocery stores were open on the outskirts of the towns like the Winn Dixie off of Hwy 59
in Mandeville and select convenience stores are available. The McDonald’s in Summit, MS packed out with people scurrying around like ants on a discarded crumb. While in was line I met a woman with a two year old boy who was weeping and attempting to cover up her emotion. After she sat down to eat I went over to her to see what the matter was. She had been separated from her husband during the exodus and just found out via a patchy cell connection that her seventy-five year old housekeeper in New Orleans had been found dead. Even in the midst of freedom and protection and grace in her escape came a bitter reminder of misery.
Electricity is on in particular areas, mostly around central business zones and interstate highways and none of it was on in the residential areas that we could see.
The water was working in the Mandeville - Deerfield
subdivision when we visited my wife’s uncle’s house. Overall, Deerfield
was not devastated - several homes had severe tree damage while other dwellings were not touched.
We arrived a day after many crews and residents had already cleared paths on previously impassable roads. Power lines hung like spaghetti strings on bent and cracked Popsicle sticks and the ground is lined with a mesh of twigs, leaves, and pine needles.
I received many emails and posts asking me about damage reports in certain subdivisions and areas. Let me make this statement in light of those requests:
A good or bad report about a particular area does not give you accurate information about your home. Damage in the area is extremely specific. One home will have a forty foot pine tree guillotine slicing it in two while a neighbor’s home has only debris in the yard.
Hence, the only way to truly know about your property is to actually see it firsthand.
Our biggest challenge was gasoline since not only have the costs risen to $3 per gallon but finding gas is very difficult and when you do you find a place to refuel, you just might end up running on empty and patience as you sit in a very long hour plus wait. With this in mind we planned our trip so that we could make it in and back on one tank. As a result we were not able to see all that we wanted to visit.
Next on our excursion was Slidell. One thing we became immediately aware of was that although the destruction, flooding, and damage were real; many things were inaccurately reported. For example, Outback Steakhouse showed no signs of a fire, the Bowling USA building on Robert Road was not in two pieces, and RaceTrac on Gause is severely damaged but not leveled. That being said, the town did get hit hard. What the news reports don’t tell you is that these towns and cities are not cookie cut. One part of the same subdivision may flood while the other side does not. One section of a town may be underwater while a few miles away they are dry, but have severe wind damage. As mentioned earlier the destruction is extremely specific.
On I-12 are digital signs notifying you that I-10 East to New Orleans is closed off and within Slidell at the old Wal-mart parking lot is the Army National Guard overseeing the dispensing of MREs, water, and ice. Big signs were scattered in ditches and many buildings had pieces hanging off of them. We went to our church building and found our sign snapped in half, the roof damaged, both of our trees uprooted, the fence surrounding the property knocked down and minor flooding in the foyer of the building. Considering the wind and water beast that rolled over town we fared well.
My brother’s home was built on stilts and is located near the Pearl River around Davis Landing and had three feet of flood water running under it. Trees and massive limbs just missed the house with only one large pine tree crushing his front fence and blocking the entry to his driveway.
In Magnolia Forest we found my house with a hardwood tree resting on the roof over my bedroom and what looked like a Tasmanian loblolly pine explosion. Across from the subdivision along Military was a tornado wind path where about one hundred pine trees had their tops snapped off as they laid mostly still attached in isosceles angles. Several of the homes had been sledge hammered including my shed in the backyard. It was smashed by a severed pine. My one hundred and twenty foot concrete driveway was invisible underneath a jungle of tree and limb parts. The Honda Civic I left parked parallel to my garage door was in good shape. I covered it with a tarp and secured the covering with full cords and tie downs but the wind simply peeled that vain attempt back exposing the car to intense wind and rain. We went inside to inspect, cleaning out the freezer and refrigerator of quickly rotting foods and there doesn’t seem to be any water damage inside.
It will take weeks to clean, clear, and begin to get things back to order. All around this area are people in need of one thing or another and it is our goal to help them all as much as possible. Sovereign Grace is assembling all of the offers of help that have been coming in as many wish to support local church efforts instead of the more broad and generic Red Cross/Unity Way-type of support believing that the resources they provide will be directly administered to the community in a more timely and efficient manner.
We will see to it that we faithfully dispense what is given to us to those who need it, ministering to the community as the needs are made known to us. We are still diligently attempting to locate our congregants and assess their specific needs as communications are still sketchy and unreliable. Our phone number here in Natchez at the Louisiana Katrina Refugee Camp is (601) 442 – 8764.
Continue to pray for us as stress levels are high and everyone is on edge. Today my parents and sister and brother in law are supposed to join our living quarters bringing us up to nine adults and seven children.