Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to Hurricane Laura by supporting local Church partners in Louisiana and Texas as they provide emergency assistance to vulnerable groups impacted by the storm. Dioceses are distributing food and building and cleaning supplies, as well as arranging services such as temporary housing, laundry and building and vehicle repairs.
On August 27, Hurricane Laura made landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph – only 7 mph short of Category 5 classification – causing downed trees in roads and on power lines and damage to homes and structures throughout eastern Texas and western Louisiana.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program team was in close contact with dioceses along the Gulf Coast in the days leading up to the storm making landfall as the partners mobilized disaster preparation and response plans. Staff continues to provide expertise and guidance as partners determine the most urgent unmet needs in their communities.
Hurricane Laura made direct impact on the Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Ruston and Monroe areas of western Louisiana, causing catastrophic damage to buildings and infrastructure, including a fire and chemical leak in a chemical plant and significant damage to the public water system. With Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana is distributing emergency assistance such as gas, food, personal care and cleaning supplies to marginalized communities who evacuated or whose homes were damaged or destroyed. The diocese is also arranging other aid such as car repairs to allow individuals to go to work, access laundry services and replace medications that were lost in the storm.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas is leveraging local connections and their extensive experience in disaster response to provide building materials such as tarps, nails and contractor trash bags to a regional distribution center. The diocese is also supplying gift cards for food and other supplies to impacted families. Additionally, diocesan leaders are arranging temporary housing in local motels and hotels for people in need of shelter.
As many as 10,000 evacuees from southwest Louisiana sought shelter in New Orleans. COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols have complicated traditional sheltering efforts. Many of the evacuees are in hotels throughout the area, provided by the City of New Orleans. The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana is supporting these individuals and families with basic needs such as food, clothing and gas, as well as to assist in purchasing supplies for their homes when they are able to safely return.
“Because of the Gulf Coast dioceses’ experiences responding to disasters and community connections, they have been able to begin responding to unmet needs created by Hurricane Laura, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lura Steele, Program Officer, US Disaster Program.
Please pray for the individuals and families affected by the storm. Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fundwill help Episcopal Relief & Development and Church partners continue to respond to the needs of the vulnerable communities impacted by Hurricane Laura and other tropical storms and hurricanes. Learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program and download resources to help you prepare for a disaster here.