When Diocesan Office of Long Term Recovery case manager Natalia Christensen first visited Eunice Jack’s house several weeks ago, she said it was in bad condition. Roof damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina had taken its toll and on the structure and, to make matters worse, Jack, who has had several strokes, was living without air conditioning in sweltering heat.
“When I went to visit her, I was covered in sweat and my head was pounding. It was unbearable. She was sitting in front of a fan watching TV,” Christensen said.
“It was the middle of the summer and there was no AC in the house. It was an emergency situation, so, health wise, it was very important that we help her.”
That’s when El Paso Southern Natural Gas Company of Picayune came to the rescue.
The company donated a trailer for Jack and her sister, Mae, to live in.
“The trailer came from one of our locations in St. Bernard Parish. We had bought several trailers after Hurricane Katrina to house our people at a compressor station and now we have built living quarters for them and had some trailers that we wanted to donate,” said Mike Roberts, offshore operations supervisor for El Paso Southern.
“I got in touch with St. Charles Borromeo Church in Picayune and they got me in touch with the Diocesan Office of Long Term Recovery and its been probably six months leading up to getting the trailer set. It feels great to be to do this for this family.”
Family and friends of Eunice Jack gathered at the trailer for an August 31 dedication.
Doris Alexander, a volunteer case worker, has know the Jack family all of her life and said, “You couldn’t have chosen a better family.”
“These are Christian people,” Alexander said. “They are hard working and they’re community minded people. They are a group that prays together. They love each other and they do for each other when there’s a need and we appreciate that about them. You’ve chosen well.”
Mae Jack said the new trailer is a prayer answered.
“Thank y’all. Y’all just don’t know what you’ve done for us,” said. “We’ve been praying and fasting for this for the longest and God has answered our prayers.”
Jennifer Williams, diocesan director of Catholic Social and Community Services, said the assistance rendered by the City of Lucedale in helping to move the Jacks into the new trailer has been invaluable.
“We’ve built house across the gulf coast and a little north of the gulf coast and the City of Lucedale has, by far, been the most active in the recovery of its residents,” she said.
“It’s really nice to see a community be what that word means – a true community in helping each other out.”
Lucedale City Clerk Kathy Johnson summed up the day with three words.
“God is good,” she said, eliciting a chorus of “amen’s” from the packed house.
“We appreciate the ones who gave, the ones who worked with them, but, Miss Eunice, we appreciate you and your family for being a very important part of this community and that’s what it’s all about is people helping people and people reaching out.”
Lucedale building inspector and zoning enforcement officer Frank Johnson said that Christensen, fellow case manager Hien Nguyen and all of the employees of the Diocesan Office of Long Term Recovery are to be commended for their efforts in helping Jack and others get back into safe and comfortable housing.
“It means a whole lot,” he said. It’s just wonderful for these people and for the city. It’s been a pleasure to work with this organization. It really has.”
The dedication of Jack’s trailer was the first of two held August 31 in Lucedale. DOLTR officials also dedicated a trailer belonging to Teena Long and her two teenaged sons and, several days earlier, dedicated a house in Moss Point.
Printed with permission from the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi.