|Courtesy of Charles Herring
Floodwaters trapped guests in the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Canal Street.
Sept. 29, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Rev. Charles M. Herring went to New Orleans a few days early for a
training event and ended up being in the wrong place at the right time.
people wouldn’t think being caught in one of the worst storms ever to
hit the United States was a lucky coincidence, but Herring knows God
placed him in the path of Hurricane Katrina for a reason.
a United Methodist and U.S. Army chaplain, flew from Heidelberg,
Germany, to New Orleans for a Department of Defense training program. He
decided to bring his wife and mother along to enjoy the sights and
sounds of the Crescent City for a few days before his training event was
first couple of days was absolutely wonderful, the weather was just
beautiful, the streets were full of people,” he says. Then Hurricane
Katrina turned toward New Orleans, the training was cancelled and the
airport was shut down.
the hurricane made landfall Aug. 29, Herring and about 1,200 other
guests ended up riding out the storm in the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Canal
|Courtesy of Charles Herring
The staff of the Ritz Carlton Hotel posted signs to keep guests informed and safe during the days after Hurricane Katrina hit.
“It was an
interesting time to say the least; the ministry was just absolutely
outstanding,” he says. “It is those types of situations when you know
you are called of God to provide spiritual ministry and spiritual aid to
As the only pastor in the hotel, Herring moved through the crowd, offering comfort and prayers to the guests.
also a former hospital chaplain, offered his services to some doctors
who were in the hotel and had set up an infirmary. He provided
round-the-clock pastoral care for the guests and staff.
just moved among the families and the children and the elderly,” asking
them about their home churches and faith, he says. “It was interesting
to me to get them to start focusing on their core faith belief and use
that as a source of strength and courage.”
finds the experience hard to put into words but says the spirit of the
people in the hotel was amazing. “Everyone knew that everyone was doing
the very best they could.”
Courtesy of Charles M. Herring
A boat floats pass the Ritz Carlton Hotel after Hurricane Katrina caused flooding in the area.
Herring who has been in combat three times and was even wounded in Iraq, says his training as a chaplain “just clicked in.”
is what we do as Army chaplains,” he says. “Down in the water, helping
someone walk two and half blocks through contaminated water to get to
safety; blessing a small child whose family really doesn’t know if they
are going to make it; offering prayers for people who really have some
faith issues and are coming to terms with their own mortality.
am a chaplain and United Methodist pastor, and this is where I was
meant to be at that particular time, at that particular place, and with
those very special people.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.