As reported in KAT 6, my LW and I spent a weekend (not the one just completed but the one before) in North Miss. with our daughter, and attended a football game. On Sunday, we ran from tornados – the remnants of Hurricane Rita. We were staying in a mobile home and as the weather worsened we left for our friend’s house. Meanwhile, a twister touched down on the college campus, wrecking their cafeteria, two blocks from where my daughter was huddled in the basement of her dorm. Over 350 tornado warnings were issued that day in the area we were in! Hurricanes, tornados,….what’s next? I got a note from friends in California asking me NOT TO COME! Thankfully no one was killed by all the bad storms.

The days continue to all run together. The last 4 or 5 especially. My LW and I were awakened at 3:30 Sat morning by the phone – our college attending middle child called to tell us a young man whom she had been seeing (for a short time) had been killed – hit by a drunk driver as he crossed the street. My daughter had talked to him on the phone an hour before. Funeral is today. My heart breaks for his family, and of course for my child who is devestated.
Two of my three vehicles broke down this week. I was able to afford repairs on one, and after picking it up I had a blow out on the Interstate. A very nice policeman stopped to help (I discovered I did not have a jack in the trunk). The spare tire, which was in the trunk when I bought this piece of *** car, did NOT FIT! The policeman took me to a tire store and I was able to get something to put on the car. (There are LOTS of tire problems down here as you can imagine, we are still running over debris, including LOTS of roofing nails – their are shingles EVERYWHERE). I thank Gulfport policeman Dave for his generous assistance.
Our relief center is serving over 1200 people a day, and the free medical clinic between 170 and 250 a day. We thought the need would have slowed by now, but it is instead increasing. Our volunteer force really dwindles on weekends, but we had a full house last night (around 100 people). We need them all.
We are 5 weeks post-storm. I sense much more despair now than before. The adrenalin rush no longer carries folks through the days. As they face the enormous, long, impossible tasks in front of them, and struggle with insurance adjusters and FEMA and Red Cross (has their ever been a charity with so much funding and so incapable of using it?) their patience is exhausted. We go through trucks and trucks of food supplies, because people without jobs are afraid to spend money on groceries. It’s getting harder…..
Yet as 130 of us gathered for church in the school gym on Sunday, their were smiles, laughs, and a lot of tears. I have been asked to recreate my sermon, I will let you know where that will be. The Palm Pilot I used to use to record them was a storm victim, so I don’t have a sound file. It was from the heart but I need to try and type up some recollection of it. I was interviewed on BBC radio after the service and the reporter was very moved and asked me to repeat much of my words in the interview. They didn’t come from me, that’s all I know.

Disaster Recovery

One common comment I have heard since Katrina has been “well, they didn’t teach you about this at seminary, did they?”.
No, they didn’t.
But, as someone who spent 20+ years in the banking world, in Data Processing, I should have been better prepared.
As a mainframe systems programmer, we were required not just to have published disaster plans, but to test them. At least twice a year we would take backup tapes of all our systems and fly to an off site center, load the entire systems (this is WAY WAY bigger than PC network stuff, folks), get it up and running, run a day’s work for the bank, establish communications links to branches in Mississippi, etc. It was HARD stuff but very important. We utilized two offsite vaults and backups were sent to each every day – in case the “disaster” affected one vault as well as our main location.
To make it more realistic, at times the auditors would come in a declare a “surprise” disaster test. Part of the surprise was to mark certain staff members as MIA – so they could not participate in the test, nor were they allowed to communicate with those who were. We had 4 folks on my staff, and two would be exempt, really testing how well we documented our plan and cross trained our staff.
So here comes Katrina, and you would think I would have had a better plan. Now I must give credit to our altar guild, as they had a written plan that they did execute – three seperate large buckets were loaded with altar sets – chalices, patens, linens, bread, wine, BCP, Bible – all that we needed to “do church” from one container. They were then sent to three different evacuees to take off site. All survived, so we have all our chalices, etc.
As to the church records, we loaded them to a parishioner’s house who had built to withstand 150+MPH winds, and had a “safe room” made of extra reinforced concrete and steel. In it we took our Parish Register, our Services Record, our charter (when we became a parish), checks, financial records, backups of our computers. It was all wiped out by storm surge. All….gone.
Thankfully my secretary, at my suggestion, took a copy of our church database records with her, so we do have a backup to restore from once we get a computer.
I left WAY too much stuff in my office, stuff that is not replaceble. I did get all my personal stoles, but left albs (mine and my wife’s), ordination certificates, some pictures, all my books. Idiot. I should know better. And I should have simply taken the desktop PCs (sans monitors and printers) with me, it would have saved us tons of time (and money).

Bottom line – you ALL need a plan and you need to TEST it too. Write it up, declare some people MIA, and try it out. You need redundant backups and you need safe places for stuff. Lots of places. Lots of stuff.
If Seabury (or any other seminary) wants me to teach a class – PLEASE let me know. I can, by example, tell how not to do it – and maybe a little of how to.


The grace of God continues to astonish me in many ways. The numbers of people who have come to help from all over the continent are amazing. THANK YOU ALL…
I am typing this from a portable Internet trailer. A man from Canada and his Anglican Priest wife drove it down and have setup an “internet cafe” for the volunteers here. He is connected via satellite to the net. This is his business, and he is forgoing any money making opportunities to be here to help us. He told me “I knew I had to put up or shut up. I wanted to help – this was something I knew I could do”.
His gift is really cool – being connected to the world is a huge thing for all of us.
Our prayers are for all those in the path of Hurricane Rita. It is so hard to believe another monster storm is upon this area. They keep sliding the path to the east, bad news for us and for New Orleans. We are already receiving rain bands here in South Mississippi, and this is bad news for all of us with tarps on our houses. While we are suffering under RECORD heat (new record highs for the last four days, we have had almost no rain since Katrina, which helps in the drying out process.
My vestry has insisted I leave for the weekend. So the LW and I are getting away from the relief center and medical clinic to spend our anniversary and to visit with our daughter at her college. We need it and will relish the time, although it will be short and way too short to do any decompressing.
I did open my new book collection the other day – THANK YOU AKMA and Mitch! It really made my spirits soar – such a simple thing.
Please keep praying and helping. We are getting such wonderful support and quite a few churches are offering to adopt St. Patrick’s. We will rebuild TOGETHER. Bless you all.

Kat 5

Yes, the title is a play on words.
What a week. Hard to believe it’s Saturday. I traveled north a little ways to get online access for a small time.
I am living in my home again! Water and sewer are semi-working and we slept in our own bed a couple of nights ago for the 1st time. How blessed we are to have a bed, a roof, a home. In Pass Christian it is estimated 500 homes of 8000 are habital! Can you see a little of how overwhelming this is? And how fortunate I feel?
Work at the relief center and medical clinic continues at an amazing pace. This week Mitch and Patrick, Seabury folks, came down and MAN did they work hard! I am totally impressed. They pitched in and did everything imaginable.
ANd they brought me gifts – some $$ and BOOKS! The generosity of folks is so wonderful and affirming. I love you all! ThANK YOU…
Today was a very productive day for me. I was able to go out and see many of my people and to contact a lot of the displaced via phone. Working at the center has kept me from doing much of that, other than on Sunday mornings. Getting re-connected is so important to me and to them and I am blessed to have people FAR better than I running the relief efforts now. Thank you God!
Gotta go, curfer coming soon. I hope to check in later next week. Thanks again to all.

Itinerant: noun. a person who alternates between working and wandering.