The Youth With A Mission Tyler base in Texas is doing as much as it can to help hurricane victims and its personnel after Hurricane Katrina left most of New Orleans submerged, including all eleven of YWAM New Orleanss buildings.
Many of YWAM New Orleanss personnel and families were evacuated before the hurricane struck on Aug. 29 and are staying at the YWAM Tyler base, an eight-hour drive from New Orleans. Some only stayed a few days at the base before relocating to stay with family members. Currently, the Tyler base is housing eight families.
Debbie Lascelles of YWAM Tyler's MercyWorks received a phone call on Wednesday from Bronwen Niles, one of the directors of YWAM New Orleans, who reported that the rest of its personnel had safely evacuated to Baton Rouge.
"They're a little bit hard-pressed because they can't use credit cards or phones because there's is no electricity," Lascelles told the Christian Post.
As a result of the 145-mph hurricane, a levee broke in New Orleans and sent 80 percent of the city under water including YWAM's drug rehab facility and crisis pregnancy center.
Lascelles said that she has not heard word on the whereabouts of non-staff members from the drug rehab facility or crisis pregnancy center but noted regrettably that she was only able to speak briefly to Niles since the telephone reception was poor and the electricity was unstable.
YWAM personnel are still trying to find out the condition of the eleven buildings in New Orleans.
"The staff doesn't know if the buildings are still standing," said Lascelles in an article posted Wednesday on YWAM's website, "but from the aerial photographs they've seen, they're pretty sure that all their possessions are gone."
However, on Thursday, Lascelles told the Christian Post that she thinks the buildings are in "okay" shape after reading a posting from one website. "But we're pretty sure we lost the crisis pregnancy center," she lamented, "which is bad because it was a good center."
Meanwhile, MercyWorks, the relief arm of YWAM Tyler, is preparing to provide emergency aid to hurricane victims and raise funds for efforts to rebuild YWAM New Orleans facilities. This Sunday, members from Tyler base plan to collaborate with Clear View Church of Christ in Garden Valley, Texas, to send a relief team to Gulfport, Miss., another area severely hit by the hurricane.
The team will take food, baby items and water to the victims there, says Lascelles, who has been writing letters asking for donations and raising funds for relief efforts.
MercyWorks has also brought a truck to Grace Community Church School in Texas to collect donations of food and other items.
However, the relief team is still waiting for clearance from the U.S. National Guard, which usually escorts relief groups into the affected areas. Once there, the YWAM and Clear View Church team plans to stay for approximately three days and deliver needed supplies to victims.
"We'll also be doing some further assessment at that time. We've been busy trying to mobilize Tyler to help and we've been renting semi trucks to take relief supplies," said Lascelles.
She said she hopes that more people will able to assist the relief efforts once travel conditions into the area improve.
"I feel confident that there will be many opportunities for young people to be involved in the future."
MercyWorks has set up two relief funds, one for hurricane victims and the other for YWAM New Orleans. Checks designated "YWAM New Orleans" or "Hurricane Relief" can be sent to:
P.O. Box 3000
Garden Valley, TX 75771-3000 USA
For more information on MercyWorks, visit www.mercyworks.org.