Focus On....Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
PDA (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) has been in existence for eleven years. Until Katrina struck, PDA was an assessment organization which then provided money for relief. Katrina - which means "pure or cleansing" - changed all that. Presbyterians searched their hearts and knew they needed to do more than merely give; they needed to be involved in the physical rebuilding of peoples’ lives.
After August 24, 2005, PDA became a hands-on mission relief organization. The six Villages along the Gulf Coast are the first of its kind for Presbyterians. It is an on-going adventure. Like any baby, it requires many changes. Be flexible. Be patient. Be loving. The continuing needs of these people are great.
PDA is more than an immediate relief organization. We are here for the people and for the long term. People in need ask for our help; then after the work order is filled out, we pray in the materials and necessary volunteers, both the skilled and/or willing. God is good. Miracles not only are expected but actually happen - and happen on a daily basis.
After a five-minute explanation of what he intended, Dan "Grump" Grimes (Logistics Manager) made the deal in October of 2005 to start PDA Pearlington on the lot next to the West Hancock Fire Station. There is one large, white Community Tent with roll-up sides - the sort of tent used for weddings. Within this tent both breakfast and supper is served and eaten. It is also used in the evening for Group Devotions and sharing stories and miracles from that day.
Originally set up as a Camp with tents, PDA Pearlington is now a Village, with roomy 10’ by 10’ accordion, plastic pods. There are thirty pods, and each pod holds three cots. There is a food storage shed, and a kitchen with an oven-stove, two sinks, two refrigerators and one freezer. The Village Manager has an office as well as the Site Manager and Assessment Officer.
The most important thing for volunteers to remember before coming to a village is to leave behind preconceived ideas of what work needs to be done. Volunteers must be flexible in what they are going to do while at the Village. Jobs come to our attention by locals requesting PDA help. In true Presbyterian fashion, Work Orders are filled out and daily updated each evening as the work progresses. Some jobs are two-people jobs; some are three-people jobs; some jobs can be for six or more people, and continue for several days or more. We are willing to do 75% of the needed work, but expect homeowners to do the rest, including the cosmetic work.
There is still much initial work to be done, and the 2006 Hurricane Season is only two weeks away.