Tanya Dillon

Adapted from Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Diocese of Louisiana’s emergency response efforts after widespread flooding damaged 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 August 17, 20 Louisiana parishes (counties) had been included in the federal disaster declaration [PDF] 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 affected, and assessments continue.

With support from Episcopal Relief & Development, the Diocese of Louisiana is responding to immediate needs such as food, emergency housing and storage, gasoline, and gift cards for replacing lost items.

“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 said that St. Francis 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 of Baton Rouge reports that 80 percent of its classrooms were undamaged and it will reopen August 22.

A large portion of the Diocese of Western Louisiana 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 in 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. Episcopal Relief & Development’s preparedness resources explain how to create a disaster kit and to ensure adequate supplies of food and water at home.

Episcopal Relief & Development welcomes donations to its U.S. Disaster Response Fund.

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