How much water have we had?
Most of the affected area (roughly between Hammond to Lafayette or from Interstate 55 to Interstate 49) had over 2 feet of rainfall in a short period of time. Some areas had 30 inches of rain. The flood waters rose so rapidly that people had to actually flee their homes.
Two rivers crested at historic levels and Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas both rose over 6″ in water level. These are both large lakes.
People are hurting, especially those who flooded just last March and were about ready to move back into their homes.
Many of the affected people do not have flood insurance because either they are not in a flood zone or neither they nor their neighbors have ever been close to flooding before. Some houses received a few feet of water while others were flooded to the roof.
Just in our church, which is not in the center of the affected area, we know of members who slept in their attic as the waters rose and one of our pastors and several of our members were stranded on Interstate 12 for 30 hours because of rapidly rising water. In Denham Springs, Louisiana, a daughter of one of our ministers has been living at the Nursing Home where she works for days because the home is cut off from the surrounding area. Hers is not an isolated incident.
All of this has compounded the danger as emergency vehicles from ambulances to fire trucks have been unable to cross the flooded areas.
Ten precious lives have been lost from the flooding.
I know of twelve Baptist churches (just in my area) that have flooded and the residences of at least four pastors.
What we learned through the day yesterday was how massive the area of devastation is. The word that is being used is “Katrina-esque.” Where will these flooded families live? How many businesses have been affected? All of this is unclear at this point.
What can we do to help those who are hurting?
First, we can share our worldly goods with those who have needs. As usual, many of the most affected have the least ability to start over and repair their houses and businesses. “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17).
Second, we can pray and encourage those in need. Many people are in a “what can happen next?” mentality and need close personal contact with positive people. We may not be able to do everything, but we can all show love and compassion to people in despair.
Third, we can support those groups who minister to hurting people. For example, Southern Baptists have the third largest disaster ministry in the country (following the Red Cross and the Salvation Army). We can help support those groups who are on the ground seeking to bless the hurting.
Fourth, we can pray for wisdom and discernment for those who will lead the recovery. They have a huge job to begin attacking the problem.
Finally, we can thank God for compassionate people who go out of their way to meet the needs of others.