Mississippi College, Local Congregation Partner to Offer Hurricane Ida Disaster Relief
When Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms ever to lash the U.S., tore through the Gulf Coast of Louisiana Aug. 29, leaving a wide swath of destruction in its wake, it did more than cripple power lines, spoil food and water supplies and damage homes and businesses.
It also presented an opportunity to share God’s love.
Not long after Ida finished her deadly rampage across the state, Mississippi College and Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton teamed up with St. Rose Community Church in Louisiana to collect donations of water, food and cleaning supplies to help residents of the small river community just outside of New Orleans.
“(St. Rose) was one of the harder-hit areas,” said Tim Rowan, associate pastor of missions at Morrison Heights. “Virtually all of their utility poles are on the ground. They will have to undergo a complete infrastructure rebuild before they will be able to get power.
“Any time we have an opportunity to help people in need as a church and as a Christian University, we feel it’s part of our obligation to help.”
Each day for a full week beside Frierson Field, MC students and volunteers from Morrison Heights accepted donations of food, water, and cleaning supplies to fill a large tractor-trailer that will soon be headed to St. Rose.
Inclement weather in the gulf has delayed the delivery, but the supplies are expected to be on their way to Louisiana during the week of Monday, Sept. 20.
In the interim, several MC students and Morrison Heights volunteers traveled to the St. Rose community during the Labor Day weekend to help residents during the hurricane recovery process.
“We were involved in chainsaw work, cutting trees off houses, putting tarps on roofs,” said Rowan, a 1983 graduate of MC. “The church there set up a storeroom, and the students helped put supplies in place for people in the area to come get whatever they needed. The students helped with the cleanup as well.”
It was the first mission trip for Emily Hindt, a junior chemistry second education major from Canton, Georgia, who much earlier had witnessed the devastation a hurricane can inflict on a community.
“I went down to New Orleans a few months after Hurricane Katrina had hit (in 2005),” Hindt said. “My dad was working hurricane cleanup. It (Hurricane Ida’s damage) wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered Katrina was, but it was still devastating.
“To be able to go into a community that is hurting and to help provide something they need, to let them tangibly see the light of God through us, is what we are called to do. It was good to be on a mission trip that was strictly sharing our faith and helping to serve.
“That was really rewarding.”
Rowan said it may take years for residents of the St. Rose area to fully recover from the storm’s devastation.
“In the area we were working, many people don’t have house insurance,” he said. “It will be a long time, if ever, that these homes will actually get repaired. If we were able to put a tarp on a roof, it may remain there for a few years or more.
“The trip was an opportunity to share the Gospel with people, to pray with them, to let them know they are not forgotten during these times. We want to be a source of encouragement to them.”
Rowan said it was the first time his church had partnered with the University on a relief project of this magnitude.
“We felt it would be a good idea to reach out to MC to try to make a larger impact for those who have been effected by the hurricane and to make more of a community effort for the drive,” he said. “We felt we could reach deeper into the community to provide more support, and it has been a success.”
He credited Dr. Blake Thompson, MC president, for playing an instrumental role in the effort, agreeing to partner with Morrison Heights and host the trailer. He also commended Shari Barnes, director of the Community Service Center at MC, for organizing the student volunteers.
“A number of churches from Clinton and Jackson have supported this effort, and people from Clinton have been very supportive in dropping items by as well,” Rowan said. “I really appreciate this partnership and hope we will be able to do this again in the future as more opportunities arise to serve the community.”
Rowan said donations of large tarps, roofing nails and cleaning supplies are still being accepted through Sept. 20 in a small collection bin beside the trailer. Tax-deductible monetary donations may be made online by visiting www.morrisonheights.org, selecting the “Giving” tab and clicking “Disaster Relief.”