U-C: What I See

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Hurricane Charley Reflection

Last week I spent three days visiting with churches that were most affected by Hurricane Charley on the west coast of Florida. It was particularly compelling to be there as Hurricane Frances was gathering force in the Carribean. As one pastor put it, whether or not the gale force wind and rain arrives, in most people's mind of the trauma of another hurricane on the heals of Charley has already taken it's toll.

A quick story.

In Arcadia, located about an hour northeast of Ft. Myers, I visited with the members of First Presbyterian Church. Like most of the town, the church experienced significant damage. On the morning after the hurricane, one of the members of the church, a young woman named Sandy called the church office to ask what she could do to help other victims. By late morning, she had "borrowed" the keys to the church bus and loaded it with water, food, and diapers that the church was already stockpiling for the neediest in town.

Sandy picked up her sister Tina and, together with Tina's eight month old daughter Michaela, they headed for the Mexican neighborhood across town where most of the residents pay $500 a month for homes that probably ought to be condemned and find employment in the fields and orchards in the surrounding area. Neither of the sisters speak Spanish, but all day long, as Michaela sat in her carseat on the bus, they stopped in front of homes where dispirited residents were beginning to pick through the rubble, and they jumped off the bus with a gallon of water in each hand and the word "Agua?" by way of greeting.

Over the last couple of weeks, many parishioners have joined them, and the parish hall of the church has become a central location for collecting supplies for the victims.

This seems to me to be what church is all about. Please join me in keeping the people of Florida in your prayers - especially the folks who were hit hard by Charley and then have had to contend with eight to twelve inches of rain from Frances.