Despite the largest relief effort ever by the Southern Baptists, there is little immediate aid in sight as rescuers and other workers continue to evacuate those stranded by the flood and destruction following Hurricane Katrina and provide for those who have fled the Gulf Coast. Unable to provide food, water, or sometimes even security, rescue and relief efforts have so far made little impact.
"This is day three of the disaster, which is typically the most difficult day," Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board said yesterday. "We are beginning to understand the extent of the damage and the logistical challenges that lie ahead."
Because of bad roads, downed bridges, and other infrastructure problems, supplies have not yet reached many who need them. "People are walking into the church wanting water and ice and food. We don't have any of it yet," said Dennis Ray Smith, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi. "We've asked them to be patient, but we've had to lock the doors because we found people going through the volunteers' belongings, and they're just storming the church."
Refugees who were being sheltered at the New Orleans Superdome are now being evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston because of lack of water, food, and rising tempers.
Those who have already fled have found churches eager to help. Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in west Houston placed flyers on the windshields of cars with out-of-state license plates inviting refugees for a free spaghetti meal. "By noon Wednesday, 300 refugees from the hurricane were downing spaghetti with tomato sauce, salad, and bread, their first home-cooked meal in days."
"So many people were ...1