Disaster Relief
Hurricane Relief

Central Gulf Coast, US

August 31, 2005--April 1, 2008

Early in the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the central Gulf coast of the US. Katrina's high winds and powerful storm surge resulted in $75 billion in damage, making it the costliest hurricane in US history. Eighty percent of the city of New Orleans was flooded and vital highways, levees, and bridges were destroyed. Katrina also cost lives—more than 1000 of them—and over 90,000 square miles—almost the size of the United Kingdom—were declared Federal Disaster Areas.

SI's Rapid Response Team was at the scene within 48 hours after Katrina hit. Within days, SI's first base of operations was up and running in Mississippi, and the first teams of hard-working volunteers were sent out, equipped with chainsaws, wheelbarrows, shovels, and lots of encouragement and support for Gulf Coast residents who had lost everything they owned.

Since SI entered the Katrina Disaster zone in August 2005, over 5000 volunteers from 42 states have worked 883 sites and projects across Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Volunteer teams from 77 different organizations have removed debris, cleared out mud and muck, cleaned, and restored these sites, each team picking up where previous teams had left off in the rebuilding process.

In 2007 alone, 2039 SI volunteers continued this remarkable work. In April and in October, SI was privileged to manage one-day service events at New Orleans' historic City Park. RIMS, an insurance organization, and Circuit City took time out of their busy conference schedules to help the people of New Orleans. Over 1280 volunteers cut back two years of overgrowth, painted fences, mulched, and provided landscape clean-up at the park. Each group completed an incredible amount of work in just one eight-hour day!

In December, SI teams finished distributing furniture that had been donated by a St. Louis hotel. The teams also made preparations to move out of SI's New Orleans base of operations (known as Faith Church) in Chalmette, Louisiana. Service International will continue to work on a limited basis from another location in the New Orleans area until April 1, 2008.

Our heartfelt thanks go to Pastor Michael Green of Faith Church in New Orleans and Pastor Jay West of Gulf Coast Worship Center in Long Beach, Mississippi, who allowed SI to use their buildings and grounds. Because these pastors and their congregations were willing to give—even when they were in need—thousands of volunteers were able to bring hope and real help to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Today along the Gulf Coast—thanks to thousands of dedicated Service International volunteers and partners—there are hundreds of grateful families who once again have homes and hope for the future.