As efforts continue around the nation to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, Mercy Ships is contributing to relief efforts by collaborating with city officials, churches and other non-governmental organizations.
The Caribbean Mercy, a Mercy Ship usually serving the poor and needy in Central America
and the Caribbean, was docked in Mobile, Alabama when
the hurricane struck. The Mercy Ship is now serving as a command center and housing location for relief teams. Mercy Ships disaster response coordinators are collaborating with local relief agencies to ensure those who need help will receive it. A group from the Mercy Ship is canvassing neighborhoods near Mobile Bay, asking residents what their needs are and determining how to best meet those needs. Other teams are busy cutting downed trees and clearing debris.
Engineering Superintendent, Ciaran Holden explains why the Caribbean Mercy is in the right place at the right time, "There's no housing ashore, because of damage and lots of volunteers coming in from all over the country. The ship, being completely self-sufficient with its own electricity, water, sewage and feeding capabilities makes it perfect to house people onboard and send them out."
Mercy Ships staff
are also organizing relief efforts in the Gulfport, Mississippi area. Gulfport was a home port for the Caribbean Mercy for several years, and many local businesses and churches have remained friends and loyal supporters of Mercy Ships through the years. These strong ties led Mercy Ships staff members to return to the area to help communities rebuild.
Mike Barbera, pastor at Church of the Good Shepherd in Gulfport explains how Mercy Ships is helping his church, "To come alongside of us and partner with us, to encourage us, it's strengthening. It builds hope. It builds confidence that even though it's a massive task, that in the Lord and working together we're going to do this. We're going to not be victims."
Along with thousands of volunteers from around the country, Mercy Ships is helping the Gulf Coast clean up after the storm. But the additional strength of what Mercy Ships has to offer is in its community development. For decades Mercy Ships has empowered communities in impoverished nations by helping them realize their potential. Now Mercy Ships is seeing Gulf Coast communities catch that vision.
Mercy Ships staff member, Craig Snow, explains how Mercy Ships is working with local churches, "I think the church's responsibility is like ours to be the face of love in action in practical ways. To take people who can't rebuild on their own, to come alongside them. To either give them courage, strength, education, focus, coaching, or just the strength of manpower to go into a community to help and work alongside them.