People are hurting in southern Louisiana. The Red Cross has called the historic flooding there “the worst natural disaster in the United States since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.”
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, a Jesuit parish in Baton Rouge, is right in the middle of it. The church itself was not damaged by high waters, but its members have been hit hard.
“It’s a real disaster,” Fr. Thomas Clark, SJ, said. “There are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of homes destroyed. People are just trying to survive.”
As of August 18, reports estimate 40,000 homes have been damaged and more than 70,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance. Thirteen people have died, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, and countless people have been evacuated. Both President Barack Obama and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards have declared Louisiana a major disaster.
Immaculate Conception Parish serves a predominantly African-American congregation, with parishioners coming from all parts of Baton Rouge. At least 80 families – more than 10 percent of the registered families in the parish – have had their homes destroyed. Many others have been evacuated. Parish volunteers have been making calls to check on fellow parishioners to try to determine the full extent of the disaster within their community.
“Most of these families don’t have flood insurance,” Fr. Clark said. “They weren’t required to, because they weren’t in a flood plain.”
Unaffected parishioners have been meeting to make plans for how the parish can best support its members, now and over the long recovery period. Their focus now is on immediate needs, and the parish is collecting cleaning supplies and other basic necessity for distribution to parishioners. Volunteers are making meals and delivering them to people who have returned home and are beginning the daunting process of cleaning up.
Please pray for the people of Baton Rouge and the surrounding area of south Louisiana. If you can do more, please send your financial contribution to:
Immaculate Conception Church
1565 Curtis Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70807
Donations can also be made online here: https://immaculateconceptionbr.weshareonline.org/#.
Information for this story has come from web coverage, including the Weather Channel and The Advocate.