Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Limerick Priest Leads Rescue Effort in Mississippi

Limerick Priest Leads Rescue Effort in Mississippi

A Limerick priest is at the centre of the emergency aid drive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

LIMERICK, Ireland (PRWEB) September 14, 2005

Dr David OÂ’Connor, who is pastor of two parishes in the city of Natchez, Mississippi, 150 miles north of New Orleans, was among the first to provide shelter and food to the many people who were made homeless by the storm and who fled to the city.

He expects that the evacuees will be dependent on aid for many weeks to come. As feeding queues have extended at times to more than 350 people.

Dr OÂ’Connor has repeatedly been called to the local casualty wards since the storm hit to tend to the ill.

But his initial efforts were frustrated by the fact that there was no electricity and the cityÂ’s water system was not functioning.

In addition, the cityÂ’s six shelters had no air conditioning and people sweltered in temperatures of 35 degrees.

However, power was restored after about a-day-and-a-half and relief work was able to commence in earnest. Local churches, the Red Cross and United Way combined all their facilities to help as refugees poured into the city.

Hw commented that his city only got minimum impact and that makes it possible to serve so many who have lost homes and maybe loved ones.

The evacuees include all ages, including the elderly and sick, and children of all ages.

Dr OÂ’ConnorÂ’s two parishes, St Mary Basilica and the Parish of the Assumption pooled resources.

The parish hall at Assumption serves as an overnight and meal centre for approximately 60 people. The parish hall at St Mary Basilica is the clothing headquarters where they gather and sort clothing, and distribute it the same day to needy people.

Approximately 30 volunteers have operated the service since it opened.

The parishes also set up an emergency fund to which people who want to contribute will be able to do so. Donation details are available at www. stmarysbasilica. org

Representatives of the mental health, social services and Church leaders are assessing the emotional and spiritual needs of the evacuees. Some of these people are experiencing great stress and great anxiety and these needs need to be attended to.

Dr OÂ’Connor has been based in America for many years, but has been seconded back to work in Limerick Diocese, notably in city parishes.

He was a noted hurler in his day and his seminal history of his home parish and its sporting achievements, Cill Íde, sold out on the evening of its launch at Ashford, the launch having been performed by his friend, the then president of the GAA, Joe McDonagh. http://www. limerick. com (http://www. limerick. com).