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Recipe for Katrina Relief


Images from the Gulf Coast are still tough to see. The destruction caused by last year’s hurricanes remains obvious, but there are some happy scenes, and even scents. Reed Galin introduces us to a group of grillers who have been taking their trailer and their upbeat spirits to the hardest hit areas, to give relief workers a break and locals a lift.


(Locator: Pearlington, Miss.)

Have grill, will travel. The Pork Chop Express arrives in Pearlington, Mississipi.

Nat/Cooks unload gear: “Mississippi belongs to us, and these are our people.”

Nat/Singing cook: “We’re going to cook our pork chops all day long.”

Whenever, wherever the United Methodist Men's group of Columbus fires up the grill…

Nat/Singing cook: “I'm a pork chop cooker, baby.”

 …word quickly gets around. 

Andy Tentoni/First United Methodist Church, Columbus, Miss.: “Well, if the word doesn't get them the smoke and smell will.”

Nat/Lady greets cook: “We love you all. We appreciate you all so much. You kidding me, it's our pleasure!”

A year after Katrina pushed a 20-foot wall of water up the Pearl River, the area is still  devastated.  So, this is about more than just the best pork chops you ever ate.

Andy Tentoni/First United Methodist Church, Columbus, Miss.: “A party? Yeah. When we come in here, when we roll in, we're about noise and happiness and gladness. They set aside the turmoil and the garbage and the broken boards and someone else's house sitting on their lot. They get past all that just for 20 or 30 minutes when they see it.”

Jimmy Smith / Pearlington resident: “Everybody around you that lives here we're all kind of down and depressed. They bring the smiles and all.”

Good for the locals, and for aid volunteers.

Andria Dyess/Relief Worker, Alabama: “It's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that there is to do here.”

Gene Stutzman/Relief Worker, Michigan: “It’s always a lift when there's somebody to do your cooking for you.”

They've made the ten-hour round trip 15 times since Katrina.  Their congregation back in Columbus funds $3,500 worth of food, fuel and supplies every time The Pork Chop Express visits another coastal community.  

Andy Tentoni/First United Methodist Church, Columbus, Miss.: “It's not about us, it's about them.  So we're glad to give them whatever we've got. If we've got it, they can have it.”

Nat/Cook to recipient: “You are welcome, sweetheart!”
Nat/Singing cook: “That’s why I’m singing this pork chop cooking song.”


Over the past year as many as 15, 000 people have chowed down with The Pork Chop Express. That's a lot of grilling...and a lot of caring.

For more information contact Lee Burdine from First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Mississippi at  662-328-0444 or

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