USA (MNN) — Two years ago today, the U-S Federal government declared a public health emergency for the Gulf Coast. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina forced the launch of one of the largest search and rescue missions in history.
International Aid's Myles Fish says they were among the first responders. I-A has since provided more than $50 million dollars in aid and facilitated more than 75,000 hours of volunteer labor, successfully fielding one of the largest uninterrupted recovery operations in the region.
Responding to the criticisms of "not enough," he says, "When you take somebody down for the first time, and they're seeing the destruction, it's not uncommon to hear them express surprise that more hasn't been accomplished."
Fish explains that as a first responder, they were geared to meet the immediate emergency, but they immediately moved into a non-traditional long-term response. In fact, they buried their name as they moved into the second phase.
"We tried to figure out what is the best solution going forward for how continuous ministry can happen in this area. In this case, we started another organization that's focused on reconstruction. So last January, we turned over our efforts to this other organization, and they're continuing to do the rebuilding process."
Many of the survivors feel much of America has forgotten their plight. However, President Bush said Wednesday that the federal government has been persistent in pushing recovery efforts.
With years ahead of the Gulf Coast in restoration, the church-to-church network must reinforce ties to insure future ministry exists. Fish says in this case, the Gospel is speaking through actions–and eventually words.
"The church very much is taking a lead role in providing assistance and helping with the reconstruction process. Both the church that goes down to volunteer and to fund, but also the local church in the disaster area itself which is coordinating and identifying victims that need assistance and masterminding the reconstruction effort."