I will frankly admit that I have been sickened by the lack of compassion for those victimized by Hurricane Katrina that I’ve seen in some corners of the Bloggernacle.
Comments along the lines of “well, if they’d only had 72 hour kits. . .” or “if they had followed the evacuation order. . .” or “I never would have ended up in the Superdome” have made me spitting mad, but for reasons that I couldn’t quite articulate–until I was working on my Sunday School lesson. This is how Colonel Kane describes the last refugees to leave Nauvoo:
Here, among the docks and rushes, sheltered only by the darkness, without roof between them and the sky, I came upon a crowd of several hundred human creatures, whom my movements roused from uneasy slumber upon the ground. Dreadful indeed, was the suffering of these forsaken beings; bowed and cramped by cold and sunburn, alternating as each weary day and night dragged on, they were, almost all of them, the crippled victims of disease. They were there because they had no homes, nor hospitals, nor poor house, not friends to offer them any. They could not satisfy the feeble cravings of their sick; they had not bread to quiet the fractious hunger-cries of their children. Mothers and babes, daughters and grandparents, all of them alike, were bivouacked in tatters, wanting even covering to comfort those whom the sick shivers of fever were searching to the marrow. These were Mormons, famishing in Lee county, Iowa, in the fourth week of the month of September, in the year of our Lord 1846. They were, all told, not more than six hundred and forty persons who were thus lying on the river flats. But the Mormons in Nauvoo and its dependencies had been numbered the year before at over twenty thousand.
Sound eerily familiar? It should come as no surprise to anyone that the poor and sick. mothers with babes in arms and the elderly, will have the hardest time evacuating a city. Here’s how B. H. Roberts describes it in The Comprehensive History of the Church:
The remnant expelled from Nauvoo under circumstances of such great cruelty, was made up of those who were either too poor to purchase an outfit with which to leave the city, or else of those who could not dispose of property to buy teams with which to remove. When driven from their homes by the mob they took refuge on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, where they bivouacked as best they could on the river bottoms. They numbered about six hundred and forty, all told. An encampment was improvised of such materials as were at hand. There were a few old wagons with covers: tents were constructed by stretching quilts and blankets over frames made of small poles; other shelters still were made by weaving brush between stakes driven into the ground; and here were huddled women and children destitute of both food and adequate clothing. It was the latter part of September, and the cold fall rains frequently drenched them. It was the sickly season of the year and most of the camp suffered from alternating chills and fever. Such as were able to leave camp went into neighboring towns up and down the river and applied to farmers and settlers about them for work and relief from starvation. Their camp from the general destitution that prevailed is called in the church annals “the poor camp.”
I suppose if we were there, we might have wondered why these Saints didn’t get an earlier start. Why didn’t they have better provisions? (What’s wrong with them, anyway?)
Here’s a different response–God’s response–to their situation (again from B. H. Roberts):
In the midst of their greatest distress for want of food, a most remarkable circumstance, yet well attested, happened. This was no other than the falling into their camp–and for several miles up and down the river–of immense numbers of quails. The birds are quite common in that country, but these flocks were so exhausted, evidently from a long flight, that the women and children and even the sick, since they came tumbling into the tents or bowers, could take them up with their hands. Thousands were so caught, and the sick and the destitute were fed upon daintiest food.
If we choose to criticize those who are victimized by Katrina instead of helping them, we are not choosing the Lord’s response. We, unlike the Saints miles away and with little or no communication with “the poor camp,” are in a position to aid God in a modern miracle of the quail. Click here or here.