Yes, it is hurricane season here on the Gulf coast again, and once again, nature is poised to strike. Gustav--currently "only" a tropical storm--is just past Haiti, and it looks at the moment like it's poised to strike Jamaica head on. The path of the storm is uncertain, and the projection cone is huge. With all the uncertainty, my wife is packing for a possible evacuation to Missouri, where my vicarage Bishop and his wife are waiting with open arms to welcome my wife and children.
If they go, I probably won't be joining them. I am the manager of a large public facility, and chances are good that the community center would be used as a staging ground for local relief/recovery efforts. I'd need to be close by in case our facility is needed. We are not a shelter--we are below flood level, so we can't be a hurricane shelter--but we have a large gymnasium and a banquet/meeting room that might be utilized after the storm. As I said, I am the manager. The facility is my responsibility, and I have a job to do. I may flee as far as Baton Rouge if it appears the storm is headed straight for the Morgan City/Amelia area, but that's about as far as I can go.
This also, strangely enough, puts me in position to be of service to area congregations. I've already told some of the area pastors that, should they and their congregation members need to flee the area, they can give out my cell phone number, and I'd help to coordinate communications so that we don't "lose" people the way we did after Katrina. I moved down here not long after Katrina, and I've been blessed to be a pulpit supply pastor for congregations who are still looking for members who disappeared after the storm.
I don't write any of this to boast. I'm doing what the Lord has called me to do as a pastor, a father and a worker. If I do it faithfully, then to God be the glory. Instead, I write this to make two requests of you. First off, I ask for your prayers--for myself, for my family, for the people of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf coast, and for those who have already been hit by Gustav or will be hit in the course of the storm. This area, and the greater New Orleans area in particular, is still recovering from Katrina, and we've got a long way to go. And second, if you know people from the Gulf coast who may be fleeing and you have some place available, please open your homes to them. If the storm comes this way, the need will be great, and hotel rooms are already booked for hundreds of miles.
God bless you as you serve in your vocations as citizens and Christians!