Episcopal Relief & Development supports Louisiana dioceses in flood response

Posted Aug 17, 2016

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana’s emergency response efforts in the wake of widespread flooding that has affected more than 40,000 homes across the state.

Some areas received more than 24 inches of rain, with record precipitation of up to 30 inches around Baton Rouge. As of Aug.17, 20 Louisiana parishes (counties) had been included in the federal disaster declaration due to flooding, notably Ascension and Livingston along the Amite River. One-third of the 45,000 homes in Ascension were flooded when the river overtopped the levee nearby, and more than 90 percent of homes in the town of Denham Springs have been affected. The rural parish of Tangipahoa is also severely impacted, and assessments are ongoing.

With support from Episcopal Relief & Development, the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana is responding to immediate needs such as food, emergency housing and storage, gasoline and replacement of lost items by distributing gift cards at churches and shelters. Over the long term, the economic impact of the flood will fall most heavily on those least able to recover quickly, with road and business closures resulting in lost income on top of repair costs.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana has many strong lay and clergy leaders at both the congregational and diocesan level with extensive disaster response experience and connections,” said Katie Mears, director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program. “This experience allows for streamlined processes and wisdom about how to best serve the needs of their neighbors, both in the short-term, but especially in the weeks, months and years to come.”

The Diocese of Louisiana stated that St. Francis Episcopal Church in Denham Springs reported damage to its building, and that many clergy, parishioners, staff and friends across the diocese have home damage and are staying in shelters or with family. Episcopal School in East Baton Rouge Parish was also affected but reports that 80 percent of its classrooms are undamaged and it will reopen on Aug. 22.

In the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, a large portion of the diocese is included in the federal disaster declaration. Diocesan leaders are working with local churches to assess needs as they respond in their communities. The response may include gift cards and other support for immediate emergency needs. Episcopal Relief & Development is in close contact with the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator and expects the partnership to develop over the coming weeks.

FEMA warns of heavy rain through August 20 from Texas to Alabama and likely flooding in Louisiana and further north along the Mississippi River. Emergency preparedness activities such as creating a disaster kit and ensuring adequate supplies of food and water at home are outlined in Episcopal Relief & Development’s web resources.

Please continue to pray for all those impacted by storms and flooding, for first responders who are conducting rescue operations and for church communities who are reaching out to care for their most vulnerable members and neighbors.

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to respond to the current Gulf Coast flooding and support emergency preparedness and long-term recovery efforts in the United States, please donate to the US Disaster Response Fund.

A bulletin insert is available in English and Spanish for congregations wishing to engage members in prayer and action in support of the flood response.

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For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.