Louisiana woman gives birth at Shelby Baptist

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Theresa McKnight held her newborn baby in her arms as her husband, Steve, talked about the events that led them from Chalmette, La., to Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, their home and the church Steve pastors, was under nearly 13 feet of water.

And while many headed west to Texas to flee the storm, Steve remembered it taking 17 hours to travel three miles in the face of an earlier storm and decided to head to Alabama and Shelby County where at least he knew one person.

The McKnights are just two of thousands who have fled the affects of Hurricane Katrina and now find themselves making do in another state with no income and living on the kindness of strangers.

And with little Isaac Stephen Daniel McKnight just born at SBMC, they find themselves in need of clothes, furniture and money.

For the present, they have a place to stay, sleeping in the church office of a friend. But as Steve is a full-time pastor and his church congregation has been devastated, he has lost his only source of income.

Theresa said last Tuesday that she had just seen on the news earlier in the day where their church and their home were under water.

Still, Theresa looks at the blessings that she hopes will come from their fate.

Steve is the pastor of a small non-denominational church called the River of Life Worship Center in Braithwaite, La., located near the mouth of the Mississippi River less than five miles from the Superdome.

Steve said at first he and his wife had decided not to leave Louisiana because his wife was due to give birth to their son and her hospital was in New Orleans.

However, Steve said, Al Wells, his associate pastor

told him, &uot;You have to leave. You cannot stay here.&uot;

&uot;I will be forever indebted to him,&uot; Steve said.

He and his wife drove to Meridian, Miss., and on to a hotel in Pelham called the Sleep Inn.

Steve said he had a friend Bruce McCormick, pastor at Christ Pentecostal Church on Oak Mountain Park Road.

He said he chose to come to Shelby County because he wanted to be near someone he knew.

Steve said he also knew almost everyone else was headed toward Texas &uot;and the traffic was horrific.&uot; So, he said, &uot;I went the other direction.&uot;

Theresa’s due date was Aug. 30, and the couple arrived at the Sleep Inn in Pelham on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Once in Pelham, Steve said, he and Theresa began to call hospitals that took Louisiana Medicaid. Some hospitals did not, he said, but SMBC did.

Steve said SBMC was accepting Louisiana Medicaid as if it were Alabama Medicaid because of the hurricane.

Steve said he and Theresa arrived at the hospital at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4 where they did not know anyone.

But Steve said, &uot;Everybody here has just been awesome.

&uot;This hospital has gone above and beyond,&uot; Steve said.

Steve said the congregation of his home church is awesome and before fleeing Louisiana he had phone numbers of his entire congregation. But in Shelby County they were all alone.

But he spoke of the generosity of so many people who did not know he and his wife. He recalled a Mrs. Charles Merry Christmas and a doctor, who gave them a sackful of baby blankets. He also spoke of receiving support from Kingwood Assembly of God Church.

Steve said when he and his wife left Louisiana, it was a sunny Saturday.

&uot;I was fixing to mow my grass,&uot; he said.

After the hurricane, his house and church were under 12 to 13 feet of water.

As of Sept. 5, the water covering his home was just beginning to go down.

Steve said he is &uot;taking it one day at a time. Our future is here for now.&uot;

He said he and his wife planned to go McCormick’s church office where they will sleep.

Steve said he and his wife have lost touch with their church members.

Steve said the mindset of those who stayed behind might be understood by the storms of 2004.

That year, he said, four hurricanes came in the Gulf of Mexico and all four hit the Mobile side.

At presstime, Steve said he has been able to communicate with only five of 50 members of his church.

Steve said he and Theresa plan to go back eventually. &uot;That’s my harvest field and we are going to go back,&uot;

he said.

The couple can be reached at 205-368-4935.

Steve said when he and Theresa do go home they will need furniture and everything, clothes, a washer and dryer and money.

Theresa said of her care at SBMC, &uot;I was very blessed. I may have got better care here and more attention than I would at home.&uot;

She said she had been praying about her hospital care for about four weeks because the hospital and the doctor she was using were both new. She said she asked God to orchestrate and decide who would take care of her.

She ended up in another state as though God had planned it that way all along, she said.

&uot;Everything went perfect. I have to look at the blessing that came out of the bad,&uot; she said.

Steve agreed. &uot;There are not words in my heart to express the gratitude that we have for all the nurses, doctors and everyone involved in the birth. (Dr. Ashley Duke delivered little Isaac.). Everyone will know about the generosity of this hospital.&uot;

The couple’s son, Isaac Stephen Daniel McKnight, was born Sept. 5. He weighed just over 7 ounces and was 20-and-a-half inches long