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Church members unaccounted for, but peace prevails

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (BP)–The window is open to let any whiff of breeze through as Robin Lambert taps on the only church computer left.

Lambert is homeless, her Pass Christian house condemned after 25 feet of mud and water filled it during Hurricane Katrina. But dressed in a T-shirt and cotton pants, Lambert calmly sifts through a stack of church member cards in an upstairs room at First Baptist Church, Bay St. Louis.

“I got up this morning and had to come see my friends,” Lambert said. She and her husband, Lloyd, are staying with family in nearby Gulfport.

“My family thinks I’m in shock because I’m not in bed with the covers pulled over my head.”

But God answered her prayer, which wasn’t for her house or things to be saved, but for peace.

Lambert, a retired engineer, was 6 years old when Camille hit her home on the Gulf Coast.

“That was the benchmark. We thought if it survived Camille, it would survive anything. We found out that wasn’t true,” she said.

The day after Katrina hit, Lambert and her husband decided to go see the damage at their house. It took two hours to travel a distance that should have taken less than 30 minutes. Then, they were stopped two miles from their house. The city was closed.

Lambert, who still wears a brace from a recent knee replacement surgery, decided to head in on foot with her husband.

“All the way in I just asked God for peace. And he gave it to me,” she said.

Everything was ruined, covered in mud and residue from toxic floodwaters. Lambert was able to rescue only a few items that could be cleaned, including a few pieces of her parents’ crystal which had apparently been cushioned by the mud.

When it came time to leave, her husband found their two bicycles in their shed — which had floated down the street. Riding would be less painful for Lambert than walking. But the bikes sported two flat tires.

“He remembered the pump was in the garage. I did ask God for a little help finding that pump. And we found it. We rode out and it was much easier.”

Residents of Pass Christian have only four days to salvage anything, then the city will be closed again. But Lambert took a day off to lend a hand at her church.

She spent the morning sitting in an upstairs Sunday School room setting up a database of all the church members and where they were staying. She put an “H” next to the names that were staying at home. Only a small percentage of names had that H.

There are still about 100 names with no information.

“I feel incredibly blessed,” she said. “We have a place to stay. We’ll either rebuild or we won’t. But God has answered my prayer and I feel His peace.”

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  • Sherri Brown