By Neva Rae Fox
Correspondent

On the 16th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, the same Gulf Coast region was hit with Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm at the time it made landfall.

CNN reported on Monday, August 30, Ida weakened to a tropical storm, but life-threatening flash flooding is feared.  “At least one person is dead and nearly half the state of Louisiana is without power including the entire city of New Orleans,” CNN reported.

“We have a long recovery ahead of us,” said Karen Mackey, Diocese of Louisiana communications director. “This is where we are the morning after the storm. The roads are impassable. We will survey the church property as soon as possible. We are currently checking in with clergy and clergy with their parishioners today. We are working closely with Episcopal Relief & Development. They are an invaluable resource and partner.”

Well in advance of the approaching hurricane, the Diocese of Louisiana issued resources, statements, prayers, and advice along with posting links to the Disaster Preparedness Guide, the Episcopal Asset Map Hurricane Tracker, and Church Insurance. Advice on the website was, “Be sure that you secure personal and church property. This includes parish registers, sacred vessels, important documents, and keys. It is also advisable to make a video inventory of your space, if possible.”

Before the storm hit, Louisiana Bishop Morris Thompson wrote, “Please remember to make preparations, evacuate if needed, heed to warnings of local officials and forecasters, and make sure that you are connected with others who can help you in time of greatest need. In addition, we as the diocese will draw together to support one another. It is what we do best.”

Hurricane Ida prompted the rescheduling of the diocese’s listening sessions in its new bishop search.

Bishop Jake Owensby, Diocese of Western Louisiana, posted on Facebook, “The storm crashed into Louisiana and only brushed against Western Louisiana. We are working with the state VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and Episcopal Relief & Development in order to respond most effectively. At the moment we are seeking to aid those who fled the storm into our region. Central LA hotels are full and people have gone to shelters. Our recovery work from last year’s hurricanes (Laura and Delta) continues with the help of ER&D. Being actively involved in that work has prepared us to assist with emergency relief for our sister diocese.”

In the Diocese of Mississippi the Rev. Scott Lenoir is the disaster preparedness and response team coordinator, and editor of The MS Episcopalian. He shared, “All Episcopal Churches in south Mississippi are okay or sustained minor damage. The Mississippi Coast, in general, fared better than expected. Full assessments will take place as soon as possible.  All volunteers are asked to wait for an all clear from the MS Emergency Management Agency before going to a disaster area with supplies or debris removal work.  [Southwest Mississippi] has sustained a lot of damage … especially in the McComb/Magnolia area. 100,000 homes and businesses did not have power as of 5 a.m. Monday.  According to the Sun-Herald in Biloxi, only 20% of Coast had power outages.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is appealing for funds for hurricane relief.