SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi Coast church members are mobilizing to help flooded neighbors in Louisiana. Several crews are heading west over the weekend to clean up and muck out waterlogged homes. Volunteers are ready to put their faith into action.
Larry Rutherford leads a disaster response team made up of members of the Gulf Coast Baptist Association. On Friday, Rutherford checked on his volunteers and made sure the multipurpose trailer had enough equipment, cleaning supplies, and safety gear.
"We totally suit up in a hazmat suit, depending on the scenario," Rutherford said.
Made up of mostly retirees, the crew will head to Gonzalez, La. to work with two churches to clean, sanitize, and gut flooded houses. They will help assess homes that took on water, then start cleaning and removing the damaged drywall, insulation and flooring.
"You just go help. When you care about people, it's just what you do," said Rutherford.
Several members of First Baptist Church in Long Beach will join Rutherford's group in Gonzales. Meanwhile, another group will deliver donations, help set up a distribution site in a vacant grocery store, and muck-out homes in the small community of Springfield.
"Our response was immediate because their response was immediate after Hurricane Katrina. We have a very deep sense of gratitude for all that was done for us," said Rev. LaRue Stephens.
The church will send a crew to Springfield every weekend to help rebuild lives.
"We want to go offer hope and encouragement and friendship. We want to walk alongside them, holding their hands, rebuilding," said Stephens.
The volunteers in Gonzalez will also hand out goodie bags to children, and each homeowner they help will receive a Bible.
"We're doing God's work. The shocking part is when people ask, 'What do you charge?' and you say, 'Nothing'. Some people just completely fall down to their knees. We don't expect, nor we do want, anything," said Rutherford.
The volunteers are seeking donations and supplies from the community to continue their work. You can contact each church to contribute.