A month after heavy rains caused disastrous flooding in south Louisiana volunteers are still working to clean up the damage that left 140,000 homes uninhabitable, but the good news is that the recovery is moving forward.
“The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana has entered the long-term recovery phase much quicker after this flood than we have after other disasters,” said the Rev. Elaine Clements, a deacon and the diocese’s disaster and preparedness coordinator. “We are engaged with Episcopal Relief & Development to formulate a long-term response. The clergy of the diocese are determining the needs and appropriate projects in the communities served by their (congregations).”
The record three-day rain Aug. 12-14 mostly affected East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston and St. Helena parishes, just northwest of New Orleans. Thirteen people died. More than 60,000 homes were destroyed along with 100,000 vehicles. Total damages are estimated at more than $8.7 billion.
“Over the last month, local churches throughout the dioceses of Louisiana and Western Louisiana have been responding to immediate needs, but this work has only just begun. The long-term recovery is going to take years,” said Katie Mears, director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program. “Needs now will pivot from shelters, distribution of goods and emergency meals to longer-term solutions like helping people find temporary housing, apply for insurance and other benefits and begin to repair their homes.”
The Diocese of Louisiana is leading a gutting-and-rebuilding program that will utilize volunteers, who are encouraged to follow this link to sign-up, she said. “Churches across the affected area will continue to use their local volunteers, connections and facilities to reach out to their most vulnerable neighbors and accompany them through the recovery process.”
"GENEROSITY OF PEOPLE..."
BISHOP THOMPSON INTERVIEW
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr. Bishop of Louisiana “The generosity of people always impresses me,” said Louisiana Bishop Morris K. Thompson, whose diocese covers some of the hardest-hit areas. “People stopping their daily life to go help someone else. It should not amaze me, but it does. Just the goodness of people.”
When more than 2 feet of rain from a no-name tropical system inundated parts of south Louisiana Aug.12-14, covering thousands of people’s homes, cars, and lives with fetid brown water from backed-up bayous and rivers, the diocese responded immediately.
The worst damage by far was at St. Francis in Denham Springs, east of Baton Rouge, where the Amite River jumped its banks and submerged most of the town. Several feet of water came into the church,
Thompson said. “As south Louisianans pick up the pieces of their lives, it’s critical that the help continue. People here already have a deep faith in God, and that’s already helping them deal with the immensity of the disaster and the recovery,” said Thompson. “Many people in the flooded area — up to an estimated two-thirds — didn’t have flood insurance. And federal aid, which isn’t designed to make people whole, will take some time in arriving and, when it does, will only go so far.” “While the water has gone away,” he said, the disruption in people’s life continues. “The church needs to be prepared to handle that kind of anxiety and the weariness that people will experience.” Still, he said, “south Louisiana is full of resilient people who will recover.”
– Beth Colvin is a Baton Rouge-based freelance writer. This post appeared here first: Louisiana dioceses prepare long-term response to catastrophic flood
[Episcopal News Service – Churchwide Blog]
For more of the interview, visit this link: Dioceses-prepare-long-term-response-to-catastrophic-flood/