Disaster Response in Louisiana
There is much to cover about the flooding that has occured in Louisiana. Please read through it carefully and consider how we might help to repay the folks who’ve helped us significantly through out flooding and recovery.
A letter from Bishop Michael Reinhart from August 18th. The numbers used will have changed.
This morning we began daily check-in calls with our Baton Rouge and Lafayette pastors on the ground and our Disaster Team. Here’s what we know:
Twelve dead; fourteen arrested for looting. Thirty thousand rescued and 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Authorities have instituted a curfew from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. There is still water in South Baton Rouge, which will remain there until it is pumped out.
Our congregations, Our Saviour and St. Paul in Baton Rouge and First in Lafayette, and their pastors are all high and dry. St. Paul has 7-8 families flooded. Our Saviour has 14 families who have lost everything. First has 12 families flooded. The congregations are helping their families and also looking to their neighborhoods.
St. Paul and First Christian Church are partnering right now to house and feed Red Cross workers. First is offering gift cards. The Synod Disaster Fund will be available to help support gift cards and possibly a shower house for First, as they host work groups.
From ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response
While the ELCA was wrapping up our Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans, our neighbors, right there in Louisiana, were dealing with the fast rising waters of a flash flood. During the proceedings, Holly Schmitt, a member in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod rose to shine light on the flooding and offer prayer. In Residents use a boat to navigate through flood waters in Ascension Parishher prayer offering, she said, “Unfortunately, we are beginning to see what the ravishing effects of rain are doing to this area, once again.
At the culmination of the flood, there were a total of 13 confirmed deaths, tens of thousands had been rescued and even more evacuated across southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. This flood came on the heels of several other floods that have hit the Gulf Coast region, starting earlier this spring.
Our coordinator, Jessica Vermilyea, Upbring’s Director for Disaster Response , is a very seasoned and well respected disaster coordinator in Louisiana. Beyond that, she is the chairperson of the Louisiana VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). In that capacity, she is the key person coordinating and collaborating with FEMA, all levels of state government officials, together with many voluntary organizations and ecumenical partners to address the relief needs of flood survivors. Through her and Upbring, Lutheran Disaster Response is already actively at work in Louisiana.
“Please hold the people of this great state [of Louisiana], and especially of the Gulf Coast region, in the palm of your loving hands. And let us all offer up our prayers to you, that they may be as safe as possible and have as many resources available to them as we can provide.” – Holly Schmitt
We know that this will be a long road to recovery, and we will be there to provide support through every phase of this disaster recovery process.
More from the Gulf Coast synod Website about how you may be a part of the response.
As the flood waters continue to subside, it is time to take stock of where we stand in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. Who is most vulnerable? How can we be the church in the wake of a disaster?
Listen, Assess, & Prioritize
Talk to you people. Walk your neighborhood. Drive around your community. Where are the greatest needs? What are those needs? Who doesn’t have insurance? The poor often suffer most at times like these. How can your congregation be a blessing to them?
Remember those who are struggling in your daily prayers and in the weekly prayers of your congregation.
There will be many people who will need help “mucking out.” Collect volunteers who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty. If your neighborhood wasn’t hit, go to one that was. We can help you connect with those in need. In time, your congregation may be able to help people apply for assistance, where needed.
Please consider donating to our Synod’s Disaster Fund online or send a check to the synod office with “Louisiana Flood” written in the memo line.