When, after a couple of wrong turns and a couple of back-tracks, I finally
reached the park, I found a beautifully forested campground bordering a large
lake and a catfish pond. On a typical summer weekend, people come here to fish,
take a walk in the woods, socialize by a campfire, and cook dinner over an open
flame. Now three-quarters of the 100 or so RV sites are occupied by FEMA travel
trailers. Most of the residents are not used to camping. These are city people,
people used to walking to the store, taking the bus to their job, and going to
sleep with street lights shining in their windows and emergency sirens screaming
through the night. In their new reality, the only nightlights are the stars, the
fireflies, and the porch lights of other trailers. The only night sounds are the
croaking of the frogs and the singing of katydids. Although some residents are
delighted with their new temporary homes, others are feeling isolated and afraid
—afraid of being alone and afraid of being forgotten.
I had heard that a UU from New Orleans was living in one of the FEMA trailers
at Little Black Creek and I was pleased to find her at home on my first visit to
the park. Louise lost her apartment in New Orleans and had been staying at the
shelter in Hattiesburg. Our paths had not crossed there but she was thrilled to
finally make a connection with another UU. Although she reported that she was
doing fairly well under the circumstances, she was distressed because after she
cashed her Red Cross check (about $400), someone broke into her trailer and
stole it. At my encouragement, she applied for help from the UUA/UUSC Gulf Coast
Relief Fund and assuming she is approved, should receive a check in the mail
soon. But the money is only a part of it; it can be replaced. Replacing her
sense of security in her new neighborhood is much harder to do.
However, even that is becoming bit easier as Louise has reached out to others
and in doing so has found a second displaced UU, another single woman from New
Orleans. And what's even more amazing, their trailers are right across the
street from each other. So a small UU community is forming in Little Black
Creek. They plan to attend Our Home UU Congregation in Ellisville to reestablish
connections with other UUs. Finding each other in a sea of religious
fundamentalism has done much to help them find serenity in their temporary
How unusual is it that I found two UUs in one of the many FEMA trailer parks
set up around the region? How many others are scattered around the country with
no connection to their faith communities? We know that many of our UU brothers
and sisters have not yet been located. They have not reached out to a UU
congregation in the communities where they find themselves. They have not
registered on their district or congregations website. If you hear from any UUs
from the Southwest or Mid-South Districts who have not been in touch with their
congregations or their district offices, please help to connect them to
Unitarian Universalism wherever they are. Invite them to attend church in their
new communities. Tell them about the UUA/UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund. Let them
know that their faith community is here to support them, wherever they are and
whatever their circumstances. Our faith has been, and is now, about saving
lives. And this is our work—all of us—as the struggle for recovery from this
enormous tragedy goes on.
In faith, Annette Marquis
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, August 2, 2012.
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