Hurricane Laura Response
|Two views show extensive damage to University United Methodist Church in Lake Charles, La. Southwestern Louisiana has widespread destruction from Hurricane Laura, which made landfall Aug. 27 with winds of up to 150 miles per hour. Photos by Jerry Jackson, courtesy of the Rev. Angela Cooley Bulhof, University United Methodist Church.|
As you know Hurricane Laura has significantly impacted Louisiana. The following is an except from Lara S. Martin, the Interim Director for US Disaster Response:
“You are all aware that Hurricane Laura hit LA hard overnight on Wednesday. In these early hours and days post disaster there is a great deal of coordination to be done locally. Elaine [the Louisiana Conference Disaster Response Coordinator] is doing a fantastic job of working with the state VOAD, FEMA, and local authorities. I’m going to share with you briefly the most important info below and next steps:
- Most of the damage from Laura was wind shear, not storm surge. Lots and lots of damage to roofs, etc.
- Up to 5 parishes in LA, evacuees and survivors in MS, and evacuees/survivors in Texas are all impacted by the storm. Few thousand evacuees in Houston and also a few hundred in MS.
- The main power plant and the main water treatment center in Lake Charles (for that whole area) were extensively damaged. There is little likelihood of restoration of power and safe drinking water any time soon. Major concern for both residents and volunteers.
- Lake Charles is currently no entry/reentry and all 5 parishes have various nightly curfews. Law enforcement are ensuring these rules are maintained.
- State VOAD, FEMA, and other officials are asking that orgs/volunteers NOT come to LA from out of state at this time due to accessibility/safety issues. They’ve asked for at least a week. This is not an issue for us since ERTs and any UMCOR volunteers will support the response at the INVITATION of Elaine only, as the LA CDRC.
- UMC churches being identified to become command centers, staging grounds, volunteer registration centers, etc and we will let you know more once details have firmed up.”
The following is information posted on the Louisiana Conference Web site:
August 27, 2020
Hurricane Laura slashed through Louisiana and a left a trail of devastation. The storm was one of the most severe to have ever hit Louisiana. The impacts from this story will be felt for years to come.
The Conference Office of Missional Outreach and Engagement continues to assess the situation and this page serves as an update on what we know, where some of the most extensive damage is and how we as Methodists can respond.
- Colfax: Roof damage
- DeQuincy: Water damage, roof damage
- First, DeRidder: Roof damage to youth building, significant water damage to the sanctuary
- Horseshoe Drive: small trees down
- Iowa First: trees down, the church is fine
- FUMC, Lake Charles: damage inside worship center, portion of roof torn off
- University UMC: Significant damage to Day School, offices, Safe Harbor space, and kitchen
- Moss Bluff: roof damage
- Hopewell: roof damage
- Squyres: blown-out windows, roof damage
- St. Luke Simpson: some damage
- Henning Memorial: sanctuary roof damage
- Hackberry: Roof damage, downed trees
- Sweetlake: significant roof damage
- Maplewood: lost fellowship hall, roof, and sidewall, broken stained glass in the sanctuary
- Vinton: water damage, roof damage
- Wakefield Memorial: surrounded by water, see photo on the right.
While these churches begin to repair and recover, ERT teams from across the connection will soon deploy. It is still too early for an advanced ERT callout. The Office of Missional Outreach and Engagement continues to monitor the situation.
Please refrain from self-deploying as it will hamper rescue efforts. Please monitor our web site and social media channels for those updates.
The Louisiana Conference has established a portal for those who wish to help. The web site is: www.la-umc.org/relief
You can also TEXT "relief" to 800-500-5858 and the landing page will appear on your smartphone.
UMCOR US Disaster Response and Recovery
- Advance # 901670
- Country United States
The Louisiana Conference will be dealing with this disaster for some time and it is complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic already impacting our country. At the time of this writing, they are still in the process of identifying the scope of the disaster and are not able to receive Early Response Teams.
With the number of people displaced, when they do issue an invitation for Early Response Team and other volunteer teams, those teams should go prepared to be as self sufficient as possible with food, water, shelter and tools as they can.
In the meantime, here are things that we can be doing now:
- Pray. Pray for the people of Louisiana, the first responders, the congregations already working in their communities and the various disaster response agencies and groups that are and will be responding.
- Provide monetary assistance. One to give directly to the Louisiana Conference and one to UMCOR. Material donations, presently, are not recommended until there is a specific need expressed by the Louisiana Conference.
- Prepare to go. There will be a time when there will be a call for Early Response Teams from outside of the Louisiana Conference and for other volunteers. There are several things that need to be considered so you able to respond.
- Currently, Louisiana is not on the list of no travel recommendation from our State Health Cabinet. That may change and needs to be monitored.
- Are you, like I, bordering on or considered in a at risk category? Do you have the necessary personal protective equipment to protect yourself? Do not expect it to be provided in the disaster area.
- Can you and your group be self sufficient so as not add to the burden of the local resources?
- Are you trained for this type of response? If you have group wanting Early Response Team training, contact me and we will see how we can provide that training within the current COVID-19 guidelines.
- Better prepare yourself, your church, your district, and our conference in case of disaster. Take advantage of on-line self-preparedness training. Have a personal emergency plan. Make sure your church has an emergency plan and know how you fit into that plan.
I have yet to meet a Methodist who did not want to help those in need. In disasters, we need to have a method in providing that help so that it becomes a positive ministry not only for those receiving aid, but those providing aid. I hope that the options above can provide you with information and ideas how you may be a part of the recovery effort.
We will be providing additional information on need and response as the information becomes available.
Blessings to all,
Conference Disaster Response Coordinator