Former Greene Countians Lending A Hand

James and Sheila Wood

This is written by James Wood after their return , from helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina







            Mickey, Mary K, Sheila and I (last names were not used) arrived in Slidell, LA on 11/9/2005 after an overnight stop in Paragould, ARK. with two of my sisters.  We returned to Kansas City from Slidell on 11/19/2005--after 15 hours total driving time. We were hurt (I counted 15 puncture wounds on my body), exhausted but exhilarated with the experience. 


Someone asked me when we announced we were going to Slidell why I was going “down there”.  I said it was because I was getting tired of always sitting on the sidelines when disaster hits other parts of the country and that I wanted to get involved.  Looking back on that statement now I see if that was the only reason to go, I may have had a selfish motive—just to make me feel better about myself. As all that have gone down there know, any motive other than a keen desire to help someone else soon gets erased with the muck, blood, sweat and tears.  You are soon changed, I believe, in a way that is permanent.  Soon, one looks at things differently as someone else’s “things” are thrown out into the trash heap. Physical possessions are not so important afterward.  You know the same thing could happen to you given the same or similar circumstances.


I recall mucking one house in which the homeowners were not present. I helped clear the bedroom of a young lady (about 20 years old).  I was struck by the time, effort and money she and her family must have spent in accumulating the one hundred or so dresses that we removed from her closets and threw into the trash.  We took her high-school trophies and other memorabilia from the walls and dresser tops and hauled them to the trash heap in a wheelbarrow sitting outside her bedroom window.  A crew of 9 people then aggressively attacked the interior removing all carpets, pictures, furniture, appliances and sheet rock from the house leaving only   2 X 4 studs standing.  So many hopes, dreams and so much history were taken from her and all those others we served in the blinking of an eye.


The four of us talked about how we were changed as we made the long trip home.  I tend to look at things differently now and realize that “things” are not so important.  I have pledged to remove the clutter of them from my life.  Soon after arriving home, I went completely through my closets taking out clothes and other stuff that I have not used or worn in years.  Most items are now or soon will be in the hands of agencies that will put them to use.


Uniting in a common goal and purpose we very quickly, like MacArthur’s soldiers, became brothers and sisters as we fought the common enemy of hopelessness, despair, and sadness.  It was a joy to meet some of the homeowners and see confusion and grief leave their faces after we cleared away the mess.  My hope and prayer is that they will begin to heal and get their lives back on an even keel in the future and that joy will return to them instead of sadness and despair.


We worked through a group called Hilltop Rescue and Relief, a ministry of the Hilltop Church of Christ in California.  They are highly organized and administer their activity in a loving and compassionate way. We will go back on 2/20/2006-3/3/2006.

Hilltop Rescue and Relief can  be pulled up on the Internet.

From Sheila, Mickey, Mary K and Jim—THE KC GROUP