Louis and Latasha Banks III, 5447 North Derbigny Street

aDSC03461.JPGLouis and Latasha Banks III had been married for nine days before Hurricane Katrina struck.  Their neat home at 5447 North Derbigny Street was comfortable and adequate for their new family including daughters Renisha and Mikala.  They lost all of their wedding gifts in the flood.  They left on Saturday driving to Mississippi out of the storm’s fury with only enough clothes to stay three or four days before coming back home. 

aDSC03336.JPGIt has been nearly eleven months now and their journey had carried them through MS, to North Alabama, back to Baton Rouge, to Dallas and then back to New Orleans after Christmas where they are now residing with Latasha’s mother in an apartment. 

Louis has worked many different jobs during this time including a period with Comman Ground and has volunteered to help many that are gutting out their homes in the old neighborhood.  Renisha said she wanted things back the way they were.  She misses her schools and friends.  Latasha says she has had a difficult time keeping everything moving forward.  The only way she can deal with the daily struggle is to turn it over to the Lord. 


Gentle people
Have a way
Of helping others
Encouraging their day

They walk and talk
As others do
But in a pinch
They always come through

They set aside
What might have been
Changing lives
Enabling others to mend

Reaching out
A helping hand
Working through
Returning again and again

You are just
That kind of soul
An inner glow
A Godly know

A friend to those
In need of help
A gentle person
Will be your friend
   Clay Corvin 7/19/06


Janet Benjamin, 5620 Tonti Street, N. O., LA

aDSC03320.JPGJanet Benjamin is a determined survivor of Hurricane Katrina.  Three generations of New Orleanians have lived in and owned this former residence in the heart of the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.  The beautiful home was already raised 4 feet off the ground and the flood waters from the break in the Intercoastal Canal reached up 6 more feet and swept her home off of its foundation.  Janet, her grandmother and many other family members had spent many hours on the front porch of their home, talking with neighbors and creating community.  Her neighborhood is now a beautiful memory that she hopes to recapture one day.  As we stood in front of her home, we were reminded once again of the destructiveness of nature.  Janet said this house had provided “a place she could always go” and now she is struggling through the devastation of loosing everything she owned.  Janet’s faith is strong and she states that “the Lord has seen her through.”  She believes that in time she will be able to rebuild and return to this place she loves in the lower 9th Ward.  Janet is a member of the Harvest Ripe Church, Gretna, LA pastured by the Reverend Jesse Pate, Sr.  Janet says that her church is an important part of her life and has been critical in her continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina.  Janet’s first visit home was in late October 2005 and her house was still flooded.  At that moment she said that she was reminded that the Lord would take care of her and He is even to this day. 

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Pastor Mel of Bethel Colony South

Pastor MelPastor Mel Jones is the leader of a drug rehabilitation program located on Old Gentilly Road near the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the Gentilly community of New Orleans.  Pastor Mel grew up in this neighborhood and has committed his life to giving back to the community.  He began the Bethel Colony Baptist Church which sponsors the Bethel Colony South drug and alcohol rehabilitation program more than two years ago.  Pastor Mel a recovering addict himself knows all the ins and outs of helping those caught up in addictions.  He has survived his own addictions and he says “by the power of Jesus will survive and thrive.” 

Bethel Colony South is a grassroots organization that has survived by the power of the Lord and through Jesus’ strength working through its leader Pastor Mel.  The stories of their survival through Hurricane Katrina and subsequent rebuilding are many.  It is a blessing to hear of the way the Lord is faithful to this struggling ministry in the heart of New Orleans.  Pastor Mel can be reached at 504-259-3453 or at [email protected].

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