Biloxi, Mississippi:The Chau Van Duc Vietnamese Temple held its grand opening, with 53 visitors from around the country, on August 28, 2005. More than 1,000 families arrived to join the celebration the day before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast community. A day later, the out-of-town visitors including 30 monks, survived Katrina’s fury by punching a hole in the ceiling of the temple’s storage closet and crouching in the crawl space under the roof. Ven. Thich Thien Tri, one of the resident monks who was there during the hurricane, told the Dharma Propagation Team that the water reached within one inch of the ceiling and that they only had 30 minutes to reach the attic.
The monk asked his master, Venerable Thich Dao Quang from Garden Grove, California, if they were going to die, but the wise master only said, “Later, later.” The monks, lay people, and their neighbors prayed as the winds roared. They could hear the waves crashing around the temple. While most of the buildings and casinos surrounding the temple were uprooted, the statue to Quan Am (Kuan Yin or Avalokiteshvara) and the temple did not collapse. Three years later, the beautiful Mahayana temple has been restored, but many of the other structures in the neighborhood have not. Ven. Thich Thien Tri is seen here closing the gates to the temple as the team left. Very many brilliant dharma wheel mandalas appeared in the photos taken of the smiling monk.