With access to communities opening as flood waters receded and debris cleared, the Louisiana Network Ministry now reports that the number of churches with significant damage has more than tripled since Tuesday, growing to 17 churches.
According to Brenda Viator, credential administrator and director of the Louisiana School of Ministry at the network office, Network Superintendent Scott Holmes and Secretary-Treasurer Den Hussey were able to access some communities and speak with ministers previously unreached to check on their well-being as well as any damages to report on church structures. With those personal contacts as well as by phone, the impact of Hurricane Ida on Louisiana AG churches became more clear. Viator believes now nearly every church has reported in, so numbers should not increase much more, if at all.
“Convoy of Hope has been taking turns at several of our churches with different truckloads of aid, same with Samaritan’s Purse, and cooking teams,” Viator adds. “We’ve also been fielding calls from Texas, Georgia, Missouri, and other areas ready to bring teams in and we’re working to coordinate those kinds of things.”
According to Convoy of Hope reports, thousands of families are being served through its distribution sites in places such as LaPlace, Bayou Gauche, Des Allemands, Houma, and other locations in the greater New Orleans area that sustained heavy storm damage.
Viator says that currently the network is working on delivering generators to pastors and their churches, which will enable them to get onto the road to recovery so they can minister to others.
“Our pastors are out there serving,” Viator says. “As tarps are being put on their own roofs, at the same time they’re handing out food and water.” The network has also opened its campgrounds in central Louisiana to ministers whose homes have been made unlivable by the storm.
Viator says that gasoline has become a precious commodity as well as cash — without power, stations can’t pump gas and many stores and businesses cannot take credit cards. She adds that the heat is taking a toll on people and mold is going to be literally a growing problem in the days and weeks to come.
“But what’s really outstanding is to field those phone call from people willing to come help our churches,” Viator says. “The people that have reached out and the different districts that have called to offer help, it’s been pretty great.”
So far no church damages have been reported in the Mississippi district, Potomac district, New York Ministry Network, Southern Latin district, or Texas Louisiana Hispanic district due to the storm.