Reaching out: Men’s ministry group challenges others to give

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2016

Caleb Blackston helps rip up flooring in a flooded home. Courtesy photo

Caleb Blackston helps rip up flooring in a flooded home.
Courtesy photo

Louisiana is a mess, Chris Jackson said after volunteering in the clean-up efforts there this past weekend.

He was part of a group of eight associated with Iron Works Men’s Ministry who decided to go after talking with Hopewell Baptist Church pastor Barry Wilkinson, who is from the area.

“I saw on Facebook that he was there helping some of his family,” Jackson said. “So I reached out and offered to help. He said his family’s situation was under control, but there were lots of needs down there if we wanted to send a team.”

From there, Wilkinson put him in touch with a pastor. Jackson and three of his sons, David Bryant, Jason Sasser and his son, and Caleb Blackston made the trip.

“We left here Saturday morning about 5:30, and got back Sunday night about 10,” he said. Like the group from First Baptist of Opp, most of their work was helping tear out damaged homes.

Jackson said in some places, repairs are already being made.

“In a lot of places, the power was turned right back on. The air conditioning was running, so that helped dry out a lot,” he said.

Jackson, who has worked other disaster relief locations in the past, including floods in Elba, said, “What we saw in Elba was nothing compared to that. There were just so many people affected. As soon as you think you have your mind wrapped around how big it is, you see more damage.”

Federal officials estimate that 160,000 homes, businesses and other buildings were damaged by the flood. To date, approximately 122,000 households have registered for disaster relief.

Jackson predicts the financial needs will be huge.

“What’s happened is, if you have a FEMA claim, and your house is torn out and dry, they’ll write you a check, even if you don’t have flood insurance. The average check is $20,000.

“That may sound like a lot of money to some people, but if you’ve lost all of your possessions, torn out the flooring, sheet rock, and cabinets, it won’t go far.”

Jackson also is concerned that after the clean-up, the general public’s focus will be on the next thing – like potentially damage from Tropical Storm Hermine, headed toward the west coast of Florida this weekend.

“The need is great,” he said. “If we can help meet some of the financial needs, it would go a long way.”

He and others who made the trip are encouraging families to commit 25 families to give $100 a month for the next six months in an effort to provide relief to the thousands who will need it.

Specifically, they are requesting donations to the Church at Magnolia Crossing, 34972 Old la Highway, Denham Springs, LA. The church staff does not draw a salary and the majority of their church budget already goes to helping the community. For additional information, contact Jackson at 334.222.8553.