Elmbrook Stories

Katrina: A Look Back

Katrina: A Look Back

by Pam Knoll


This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Elmbrook Church sending its first Disaster Response team. While this may be an old story to some, Katrina's impact launched disaster relief at Elmbrook Church and serves as a good reminder of what it means to BE the church.

In September 2005, 20 people under the leadership of Mary Ann Lee traveled to Pine, LA to assist in Katrina efforts. Two and a half weeks later, another team led by Pam Knoll traveled to the same location...and the rest is not only history, but an ongoing love story. With every subsequent disaster trip, a reenactment of Luke 10:25-37: the good Samaritan. From Pine, LA, Elmbrook found its way to Lemoyne Blvd. Baptist Church in Biloxi, MS and began to send teams (26 of them, but who's counting?). 

One week before Katrina, Lemoyne Church had paid off all their debt, leaving them with only $5,000 in the bank. Then Katrina hit, leaving them with five feet of water in the church with pews, a baby grand and a church organ all floating in the sanctuary. Torn between whether they should fix up the church or head into the community, they opted for the community... a decision they never regretted, for as Brother Bill would later say, "It took a storm to knock down our walls to see the needs in our community." As they started to develop a plan, a man showed up at the church -- someone they didn't know and haven't seen again since -- and gave them $12,000 (a Hebrews 13:2 moment?).

When all was said and done, Lemoyne had built 15 brand new homes, fixed more than 500 homes and hosted 6,100 volunteers. When God was done, He had multiplied the initial $12,000 to ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Now that is a fishes and loaves story on steroids.

On the 10th anniversary of Katrina slamming the Gulf coast, Lemoyne held a reunion with church staff, homeowners and key volunteers from around the country...Texas, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Wisconsin. Representing Elmbrook were Mary Ann Lee, Robin and Pam Knoll and Sherri (Weathers) Vaught.

It was good to reconnect with so many folks we had worked side by side with and homeowners we had given hope to. Yet in the midst of such celebration, we mourned the loss of Ms. Catherine, Ms. Judy and homeowner Ms. Daisy.

As we left the church, Alan made us promise to say "Hey" to all at Elmbrook who had served in Lemoyne. As we left Mississippi this month, we sensed all of Elmbrook's Gulf Coast volunteers had received an earthly "Well done good and faithful servants."

Let's continue to BE the church...

Mary Ann, Robin, Pam and Sherri

 Learn more about Elmbrook's disaster relief ministry HERE.