Katrina Evacuees Find Home and Food in Columbia
The Browns lost everything, including food, dishes and their New Orleans home, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast earlier this year.
"They had nothing," remembered John Carver, education minister at Memorial Baptist Church. "It's just hard to imagine that."
Church volunteers worked at 802 N. Ann St.
"We provided the house rent-free," Carver said.
Volunteers also provided food for the Browns.
"Everything from milk, eggs, canned goods," Carver added.
"People come by with bags of food," Brenda Brown explained.
The Central Missouri Food Bank also helps families that need help during crises.
"When it's a disaster, we kick it up," Peggy Kirkpatrick, food bank director.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, the food bank asked mid-Missouri churches, including Memorial Baptist, to adopt families and provide them with the basics. But the food bank also supplied food to families nationwide through America's Second Harvest.
"When the hurricanes hit, first of all, 80% of the food that's donated through America's Second Harvest was donated to the Gulf Coast," Kirkpatrick explained.
The food went to pantries and shelters in Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of Alabama and Florida, although the rest of the region received food, too. About 1 in 9 households in affected areas, 6.4 million people, had nothing to eat after Katrina.
"We provided food to about 700 evacuees [in Columbia] in addition to the normal need," Kirkpatrick said.
Because the food bank asked churches to do the same, Gulf Coast residents like the Browns had food.
"If I get low, they'll ask me, 'What do you need? Any food?'" Brown said. "I just thank God it's good."
John Carver and Memorial Baptist Church are behind Brenda Brown and her family until they can return to New Orleans.
In two weeks, they will send a team to help rebuild her home there.
"We're here as support to her," Carver said.
Support to make 802 N. Ann St. not only a house, but also a home.