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August 16, 2016

Episcopal Relief & Development is in contact with diocesan leaders along the Gulf Coast who are coordinating flood response efforts after several days of heavy rainfall across the region. According to FEMA, the slow-moving storm brought 10-20 inches of rain to Louisiana and the surrounding states beginning August 11, and flooding continues although the heaviest rain has moved on. Louisiana and Mississippi are both under a state of emergency, and the federal government issued a major disaster declaration for Louisiana. At least seven people have died.

The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, issued a pastoral letter on August 15 stating the known damage to church properties and highlighting the effectiveness of the “Alert Media” system being piloted in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development.

“[W]e were able to quickly ascertain if anyone was in immediate flooding danger. We also used it as an opportunity to gather all of the clergy in a conference call that was conducted this morning,” he wrote. Bishop Thompson remarked that there was nearly 100% participation in the conference call among clergy and parishes across the diocese.

Deacon Elaine Clements, Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, is working with The Rev. Canon Shannon Manning, Canon to the Ordinary, to coordinate relief efforts with Episcopal Relief & Development and communicate with congregations to meet local needs. In addition, Bishop Thompson has appointed The Rev. Mark Holland to coordinate relief efforts in the Baton Rouge area as the diocese moves “from emergency relief to long-term disaster recovery and assistance.”

Bishop Thompson’s letter includes information for donating to Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Response Fund, and the diocesan website includes links to a number of the agency’s disaster preparedness and response resources.

In the Diocese of Western Louisiana, Disaster Coordinator Deacon Lois Maberry writes that assessment efforts are currently underway to ensure that people in flooded areas are accounted for and safely sheltered, and that damage assessment will begin when the water recedes. Her message encourages donations to Episcopal Relief & Development and states: ”As conditions improve and there are needs for volunteers I will send out other communications. In the meantime, if churches would like to donate something tangible, please consider gift cards. These are easily mailed to the churches in the area and can be given out as needed for various supplies.”

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 Prayer for First Responders

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal

Header image: Rich Whitlow CC BY-NC 2.0

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Source: Gulf Coast Episcopal Dioceses Respond to Severe Flooding

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