Harvey reminds SFJ of Katrina


Members of the Smoking for Jesus Ministry celebrate the 12th Anniversary of their exodus from Hurricane Katrina-striken New Orleans. Their prayers went out to Hurricane Harvey victims at the service Sunday, Aug. 20.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

As Hurricane Harvey made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor Friday, Aug. 25, it was almost 12 years to the day that a whole congregation began its exodus from New Orleans, La. to find a home at last in Burnet County.

“We know what they are facing and we dedicated a portion of the service yesterday to prayer for them,” Claudette Monnet, who shares pastoral duties with her husband Willie L. Monnet, Sr., at Smoking for Jesus Ministry. “We will continue to pray for them.

“We have been checking on people we know and waiting to hear if anyone needs us.”

That is the measure county emergency personnel have been taking.

“We have people on standby—paramedics and others, if needed,” said Jim Barho, Burnet County Emergency Management Coordinator. “Anyone who goes down with a boat (or expertise) should to go through the State Operations Center (SOC), to have their abilities and need evaluated.”

Barhoe said he could be contacted by email, jimbarho@gmail.com, to connect people with the proper authorities to be activated.

Despite early planning, it was a long road for the Smoking for Jesus congregation to their current home at the former Buckner's Boys Ranch campus on Farm to Market Road 2342 near Kingsland. They have added to the facilities surrounding the chapel there. Eight families have constructed homes and others occupy apartment units they have built there. But at first it was pillar to post for a group of almost 80 families that left New Orleans together.

They had taken refuge at the Church Alive Retreat Center in Lumberton, but when Hurricane Rita moved in three weeks later, it was on to one and another center in Longview. They made it to Dallas to be displaced by the storm created by the annual Texas-OU game. After a brief stop in Austin, they found respite at Canyon of the Eagles and, after again taking harbor in Austin, they learned of the availability of Texas Housing Authority apartments in Marble Falls.

“We were overwhelmed by help and support in the Burnet County community,” said Monnet. “We didn't need for anything.”

Congregation members have been active in the Highland Lakes, familiar to diners at the The Real New Orleans Style Restaurant they operate in Marble Falls, and on demand for music and dance contributions to local programs.

“We do a play called 'Mount Up!' a gospel musical with singing and dancing and some of the personal experiences of people who were in the storm,” explained Monnet. “We hope we will be able to perform it again to help people who have been going through Hurricane Harvey.”

For now, however Smoking for Jesus will be praying and watching for the best way to make help count the most.

“People who want to donate can contact us through our website, www.smokingforjesusministry.org, or Facebook” said Monnet.

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