"Our organisation, the Hungarian Baptist Aid, has been enjoying a very good partnership with the North Carolina Baptist Convention, which operates as a disaster relief unit. Our team of eight people joined their work in the United States, so we can say that we were a part of an American group already in place at the disaster site."
Who were the eight people?
"Our team consisted of five search and rescue experts, who worked more as a technical rescue team. We got to the hurricane hit area a week after the disaster so there was no need to search for survivors any longer but there was a tremendous need for technical rescue work and making the disaster site safe and there was a lot of cleaning up to do."
What scene did you encounter when you got there?
"We first arrived in a town in Mississippi called Meridian, which is a couple of hundred miles north of the sea shore. What was really astonishing was that we were so far from the heaviest hit area and yet we saw most trees on the ground, many houses damaged, some of them upside down, with trees that had fallen on them. That showed us that this whole disaster was not only about New Orleans and the coastal area but it had affected a huge piece of land, probably the size of Hungary, or a little bit bigger."
How much did the scene change when you left, compared to when you arrived?
"We spent approximately sixteen days working at disaster sites in the United States. We only spent a few days in Meridian, from where we moved to another city, Gulfport, directly on the shore that was one of the worst affected cities. We worked for about ten days right on the sea shore of the Mexican Gulf. The second place we came to looked really tragic and really bad. The mile from the sea shore inside was completely gone. It seemed like it was not there anymore. All the houses were diminished to rubble, cars were on top of each other or upside down, trees had fallen everywhere and it was very similar to the images caused by the Tsunami in Southern Asia, approximately a year ago."