Church members reach out

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A contingent of Portales church members went to the hurricane-ravaged areas in south Texas and Louisiana intent on giving the victims food, shelter and above all, hope.

Members from various Baptist churches in Portales and Clovis were in Louisiana and south Texas to help out victims who were seeking shelter, food and hope. Don Davis of Portales was one of the volunteers who went to help.

“We were there to help them spiritually” Davis, a Baptist church member from Portales, said. “You’re there to give them support and give them faith to go on.”

Davis and his son, Steve Davis along with Charlie Crane went to the area as part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Don Davis said through the Southern Baptist Convention volunteers attend seminars to learn how to prepare meals, clean-up, cut trees and other tasks involved in helping after disasters.

Don Davis said he has made four trips to damaged areas in Louisiana and south Texas. Davis returned on Wednesday from his last trip after helping with removal of trees and clean-up from damaged houses. Davis said even though it’s been more than two months since the hurricanes struck the area there’s still a lot of signs of Katrina and Rita and still a lot of work to be done. Hurricane Katrina hit in late August while Hurricane Rita hit in mid-September.

“There’s still debris everywhere,” Davis said. He said evacuees expressed gratitude for their help. “They were some of the most grateful people you ever could run into.”

Davis said he also worked as a volunteer with the feeding unit. According to Davis, he helped feed 400 evacuees in Slidell, La. the first week he was there starting Sept. 10.

Slidell was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Slidell is located on the Gulf of Mexico, within 20 miles of New Orleans.

Davis said volunteers prepared an average of 10,000 meals a day for evacuees and workers. He said the food, such as beef stew, was provided by the American Red Cross.

Steve Davis and Crane, Portales Baptist church members, made a trip to Beaumont, Texas as part of the chainsaw unit. Crane said there are four volunteer units that help out the victims. The chainsaw unit is a crew which cuts the knocked-down trees to smaller sizes and removes the trees.

Steve Davis, Don’s son, said he visited with homeowners before the crews began taking the trees off of the houses. In one instance, Steve said he listened to a homeowner receive bad news from his insurance agent.

“He was told that his house wasn’t covered for hurricane damage,” Steve said. “Two trees totally destroyed his house. I was heartbroken for him.”

The daycare unit provides daycare and the feeding units provided food for the victims. The clean-up unit is composed of workers who clean the inside of the house and sanitize it.
Crane said images of the damage to the communities are still vivid in his mind.

“There were trees down everywhere,” Crane said. “There was a lot of work to be done before the reconstruction of homes.”

Crane said he came back in early October and that there is still a need for volunteers to continue to help with cleaning and rebuilding. Crane said clean-up of the communities in the Hurricane Rita zone could still take six months to a year, while clean-up for the harder hit communities in the Hurricane Katrina zone could take anywhere from one year and a half to two years.