March 23, 2006
An open letter to the church

Hello my name is Wanda Williams. My husband Clarence and our daughter Whitney live in Moss Point, Mississippi. Thank you for your love, prayers, and the gift of your time. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Before August 29, 2005, we were just a middle class family who loved the Lord. Clarence is retired Air Force and is now a student as Bishop State College in Mobile, Alabama. Whitney is eleven years old and I home-school her. We use a Christian program. We go to a very small nondenominational church.

We had prepared for Hurricane Katrina as we were told and had decided to ride the storm out. Most of our neighbors had decided it was safe, as well. Our home is several miles inland and not in a flood zone. Little did we know that this storm and its surge would throw our home and lives into turmoil. The storm surge made our patio door look like an aquarium and we were forced to leave our home in an inflatable raft for safety. When the water got to our home, it was contaminated with industrial chemicals, sewer, and all kinds of debris. All our preparation was for naught. Our community was without basic necessities like water, food, ice, gasoline, and utilities that can so easily be taken for granted.

One of the most exciting things about this event was that the church came in like the cavalry and met our basic needs. This was such a strange time because even if one had money it would not buy anything. To borrow a phrase, we had to rely on the kindness of strangers.

I use the word the church because all denominations were represented, working side by side to serve unconditional love in many forms. The love of Christ has just shined so brightly through people as yourself. I thank you on behalf of my family, my neighbors, my community, and my state for your many sacrifices. Whether you came and invested sweat equity, gave money, gave gifts, or had to feed the pet of someone who made the trip, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Our insurance gave us about 10% of what it would take to repair our property and we received no help for our property from FEMA but the offer of a 30-year loan. So your help is needed and greatly appreciated.

So again I just say thank you for helping to put our lives back together. Truly this is one of those times when words are inadequate. If I forget to mention something I should, charge it to my head, not my heart.

Sincerely yours,
Wanda Williams