By Tommy Deal, CBF Georgia Disaster Response Coordinator
Miriam Marks sits each day in the remains of her living room waiting for the day when she and her 82-year-old husband can return to their home of 56 years. On August 29, 1956, Miriam and her barber husband Luce moved into their newly built house in LaPlace, Louisiana. They raised their children there. The city named the street after Luce’s profession — Barber Drive. One son built his house next door.
On the nearly two acres behind the house were chickens and rabbits safely caged out of the reach of the neighboring alligators that graced the canal on the edge of their property. When asked about pets like dogs or cats they just smile and acknowledge the alligators’ presence.
Now in their 80’s, Luce still goes to his shop to cut hair a “few hours a day.” Miriam’s activity is limited due to her current health. Life changed for them 56 years to the day they moved into their house, August 29, 2012. Hurricane Isaac did what no storm had done before — flooded their house. The levies held in New Orleans to the east. There were no levies to control the waters of Isaac, Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi River that converged in LaPlace. Unlike any other time in their 56 years of life on Barber Drive, flood waters came rushing through the woods to the east and raised the canal that poured into their yard and home. At one time, the waters rose a foot in twenty minutes.
CBFResponds under the capable guidance of CBF of Louisiana Coordinator Reid Doster connected with New Wine Christian Fellowship and the St. John the Baptist Parish in LaPlace and determined many homes had been flooded. Homeowners were beginning the process of recovery and many, like the Marks, needed assistance. New Wine Christian Fellowship is a vibrant congregation which proved its love for its community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They opened up their facilities in a former Kmart shopping center to house the Volunteer Reception Center.
The first group of CBF volunteers came October 9-13, from First Baptist Church Augusta, Georgia. Wayne Hardy, Denny Giles, and Jeff Badke were joined by CBF of Georgia Disaster Response Coordinator Tommy Deal and Tim Adcox, Minister of Missions at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia in LaPlace. Their first assignment came through the requests for assistance via the Volunteer Reception Center. They went to the home of Luce and Miriam Marks. Their sons had been working hard to restore the house. The one son who lived with them had been doing all of the work and had found the task was more than he could handle. His parents were going each evening to sisters’ houses to sleep, but so wanted to be back in their home. Hanging sheetrock in the main living area was needed. With no real expert experience between them, these CBFResponds volunteers helped hang new sheetrock and get this home well on its way of the homeowners returning.
When the day ended the group gathered around Miriam for a picture and a prayer. You can see her beaming as she knows she will soon be able to stay at her house again all the time.