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Mississippi misery

"Mississippi misery" Continued...

Issue: "New Orleans: Starting over," Sept. 24, 2005

On a 90-degree Monday morning, Mr. Thill takes a group to Linda Ogden's home where she lives with her elderly mother. The house sustained roof damage and needs several tarps until it can be repaired. Ms. Ogden, who moved in two weeks before Katrina, knows no one in the neighborhood and initially didn't know how she would take care of the leaking roof. After praying with Ms. Ogden and giving her a Bible signed by each person on the team, the volunteers hop on the roof and begin laying sturdy tarps that will last as long as three years. "I can't believe they would help people for free like this," says Ms. Ogden. "I'm so thankful."

Twelve miles west in devastated Gulfport, dozens of volunteers fix 12,000 meals a day for residents around Pass Road Baptist Church, an inner-city congregation near the city's worst destruction. Nearly 10 percent of the congregation lost everything, but the church has staged an enormous relief effort. Volunteers from North Carolina prepare and serve meals, a group from Pensacola, Fla., brought a mobile medical clinic, and the church's sanctuary is packed from floor to ceiling with donated items.

Pastor Keith Thrash oversees the efforts between making rounds in the neighborhood to check on elderly residents who refuse to leave their homes. On a stifling afternoon, Mr. Thrash coaxes Mindy Anderson, 81, out of her decaying home, convincing her to visit a doctor. As Mr. Thrash pulls a mildewed, water-logged rug out of Mrs. Anderson's living room, he reflects on his new line of work: "They didn't teach us this in seminary."

Mr. Thrash says the church will help people as long as they need it and hopes to reach out to as many as possible in the community: "We all came here in different ships, but now we're all in the same boat."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.

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