The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Starting over

'I can't complain,' says evacuee helped by Lutheran Disaster Response

Soulful lyrics and rhythms fill the tiny one-bedroom apartment where James Webber now stays in St. Louis. He’s listening to Sam Cooke with The Soul Stirrers. It’s music he finds inspirational, something that keeps him in good spirits and puts him at peace.

Webber, 47, is one of more than 5,500 evacuees the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates came to Missouri after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August. More than 100 individuals who evacuated to St. Louis have sought the
assistance of Lutheran Disaster Response through St. Louis-based Lutheran Family and Children's Services. A collaborative ministry of the ELCA and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, LDR receives an average of three new referrals each day from other organizations, such as the Salvation Army and United Way.

Despite these uncertain days of recovery that Webber is living after Katrina’s devastation washed onto his New Orleans doorstep, he responds to “How are you doing?” with an unexpected “I can’t complain.” Webber’s faith and upbeat attitude—and the compassion of agencies like LDR—are focused on rebuilding his future.

Webber arrived in St. Louis with two pairs of pants, two shirts and a pair of shoes. He also has a small photo album, which he pulls from his closet to flip through memories of his New Orleans house decorated at Christmastime and during Mardi Gras. He also has a snapshot of his car, a Pontiac Grand Am, that “went under,” as he says.

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February issue


Embracing diversity