Here are the two latest reports from Terry Hofecker, police chaplain and pastor of the Northwest Chapel Grace Brethren Fellowship in Dublin, Ohio. Hofecker’s previous reports have been from New Orleans.
I have heard that Grace Brethren people are responding to Katrina at many levels. How gratifying! I am so proud of our little Fellowship!
Things have quieted down here in New Orleans and we were asked to go out to Baton Rouge for a day of interventions with 55 officers who got caught in firefights in New Orleans. Their orders were to evacuate prisoners and they had to leave women and children behind. Tough mission. We told them that 8,000 prisoners loose in the city would not have helped anyone, but they have a lot to process.
So, here we are in Baton Rouge next to the food stamp office. It has been open for 24 hours per day for a week. So, today when they were closing it down a small riot started to develop and SWAT had to be called in.
A week in the city and I almost get caught in a crossfire in Baton Rouge! Apparently the shelter situation is getting worse around the country. Our security contingent of U.S. Mint Police has been redeployed to Texas.
I also am being redeployed to Gulfport. Two chaplains have been sleeping in their cars there since the hurricane and are going to be relieved by a two-person team from Canada, me and a disaster chaplain from Virginia.
I have a small infection in my hand from a cut I got over in First District near the water’s edge and am only half way through my shot regimen. Need prayers to find a medic over there in Mississippi. It is ironic that, since I was not in the city today, I could not get a medic to help. DHS has medics at almost every police CP. Baton Rouge is just plain overwhelmed.
Our Mint Police made a run to Mississippi earlier this week and said that the violence and flooding are over here but the destruction is over there. I am glad to hear that some Grace Brethren folks are headed that way.
Supposedly, Gulfport is a hardship post without water or electricity. But, so many people are here, things change by the minute. The change in New Orleans in just a couple of days has been amazing.
The EOC here loaded me up with MRE’s, canteens and water purifiers. I pull out tomorrow. I may be out of e-mail range and I will miss it. It is therapeutic to download. Beside, when it gets dark, there is nothing to do.
We are encouraged to stay out of N.O. after dark now because our greatest risk there is friendly fire! Our Dublin officers are going house to house making sure that folks are “voluntarily evacuated” as soon as possible. I will miss having my personal MP’s at night. Hopefully they will not be needed over in G-port.
Pray for me! These are unprecedented days. Thanks to all who are praying
Chaplain Terry Hofecker
Monday, September 12
The Lord watches over His own. Chaplains are not supposed to be deployed
alone but should be attached to a unit or deployed in teams of at least two.
I arrived in Gulfport, MS, yesterday at the request of the ICPC Director and
the local Chief of Police and, through the inevitable confusion found in disaster areas, found myself alone today in an area where 70 percent of the buildings have been destroyed. The PD has at least 25 officers who have lost their homes. Some are sleeping at the Command Post. I spent last night in a staging area for utility poles.
Today, I had to find a place to park in a city flooded with disaster volunteers’ RV’s and homeless citizens and their family and friends. And it is 9-11-05. It looked like it would be a really bad day.
The PD sent me to a trailer park where almost every hook-up was doubled up. It looked like I would be sitting alone in a field with no security but my 9mm. As I was leaving, a retired sheriff came out and told me to go down to the edge of the destruction zone where there was a law enforcement bivouac. At least I think he was a retired sheriff–maybe he was an angel. Do angels smoke cigarettes?
I followed his directions and, sure enough, there was an encampment of 57 Marion County (Florida) Deputies, Ocala PD and EMS. They have been patrolling the storm surge zone and are camped here with a great big generator to hook up to (it is about 95 degrees in the sun).
They welcomed me like the prodigal returned and fed me Sonny’s barbecue! My team leader arrives tomorrow so I would have spent 9-11 alone. The captain even asked me to hold a service after dinner tonight. I offered to trade him my MRE’s for the meals here, but for some reason he declined. I even found some medics to treat the infection I picked up in New Orleans.
This is a “hardship” deployment, and we are supposed to be totally self-reliant. But I guess I gave up on self-reliance some time ago. I would rather trust the God who cares for His own.
I have two week’s worth of water and MRE’s in the trailer for two people. Let’s hope the Sonny’s barbecue holds up! By the way, I drove past a 40-foot shrimp boat as I drove in here. And I think we are three miles from the ocean.
There was apparently a lot of refrigerated chicken in the containers at Gulfport that has not been refrigerated for two weeks in the 90-degree heat. You can figure that one out.
I will find out my assignment tomorrow when my team leader gets here.
Tonight my assignment is to open the Word with my new friends from Florida.
Perhaps the Lord will use me to remind the men and women I will minister to
that the Lord does take care of His own, however difficult the circumstances
may be in which they find themselves.
He will have to do it because that one is beyond me–most things are nowadays. It is a tough but good place to be. Thanks for your prayers.