The Rev. Jane B. Bearden, an Episcopal priest from Massachusetts, is blogging about Hurricane Gustav from Biloxi, Miss. Bearden has been working and living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast helping the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer recover from Hurricane Katrina. An excerpt from her blog, posted (by BlackBerry, which accounts for the typos) on Sunday:
"We had about 55 today for church. There is a sense of relief that we will get minimal hurricane frce winds and only a 15 ft surge - 1/2 of Katrina. But there is great sadness for New Orleans. I cried all the way home. One of the parihsioners had come along I 10 and she said that all she could see for mile after mile were LA plates. I am reminded of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. And now I am crying again. I have got to stop that as I need to go put baptismal records in plastic bags and feed the cats..."
From a later post:
I am finally ready to go. I am spending the next 36 to 72 hours volunteering at a local Red Cross shelter.
The storm continues to veer to the west. Winds are not as strong as they were predicted at this point. The further west it goes the better for us and for NOLA at this point. But they are still predicting 130+ and a 20 ft surge. The good news is that people have responded all over and have evacuated. This is the second evacuation for my son, John and the first for #2 son, Will. Having spent the last two days with John who came to help me get ready, the emotional impact of having to leave home yet again is off the stress charts for people in NOLA. The news is full of predictions for flood depth and number of homes likely to be flooded. Pumping stations are manned though and NOLA seems to have responded well. One glitch (and this could be one of those hurricane rumors) is that only a portion of the buses that FEMA had contracted to move people out actually showed up. They were several hundred buses short. FEMA called for help and LA responded by sending buses from surrounding communities. They say that they will get all people who want to get out. There are some who have not left. All are reluctant to leave, but most are resigned to the necessity of the evacuation. The resignation is apparent in the faces.
Talk at the coffee pot after church and in the lines at the gas station are vivid retellings of Katrina, George, Elena, and Ivan. From a pastoral perspective this seems good to me. It connotes community, shared experience, a remembering that seems to make the current chaos more "ordinary". Hurricanes are a part of life on the coast. There is not doubt about that. Perhaps it is the media coverage that makes these events so frightening. Today the Gospel lesson was "pick up our cross and follow" This is one mean cross. But Rev Harold Roberts (Redeemer rector) who lost everything he had in Katrina was more focused on the power of the relationships we have built with those who have come here to help since Katrina.
See Jane's blog Gulf Coast Partners here.
See also Boston.com: Articles of Faith: Priest blogs from Biloxi as Gustav nears
See yesterday's post on The Lead You got a plan? We will update as we get news. Please keep the people of New Orleans and the Central Gulf Coast in your prayers