In the wake of the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, I wanted to touch base with you to let you know where we stand as a diocese. Over the weekend, I was in regular contact with many of our congregations and clergy. As you know, the severity and speed of this storm caught all of us by surprise.
On Saturday, we sent out an alert on our new Alert Media network through Episcopal Relief and Development. We are one of the “test dioceses” for this system. Through this, we 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. We were very pleased with the effectiveness of this system and had almost 100% participation of our clergy/parishes across the diocese.
As far as flooding, this is where we stand: St. Francis, Denham Springs received 2-4 feet of water. Robert Bishop, the senior warden, emailed us this morning to report that they were able to get to the church to assess the damage. The other affected property is Episcopal High School. This morning I received an email stating that Hugh McIntosh was taking a boat to the property. As of yesterday, there was water in the gym, the Lower School and possibly the Penniman building. We will have further details after his visit. We are still unsure of the status of the former Holy Spirit property. Amazingly, neither St. Augustine’s, Baton Rouge or St. Patrick’s, Zachary flooded. The Senior Warden in Zachary reported that the water rose to within an inch of the front door and then receded. Several of our clergy had to evacuate their homes. The extent of flooding is still being evaluated. I have assigned a clergy contact to each of them to coordinate and assist with their needs.
Canon Manning and Deacon Elaine Clements are working alongside me to coordinate relief efforts through ERD as well as communicating with the parishes to match need with relief assistance. We have verbal assurance of immediate short-term funding from ERD for $20,000. This will be a significant help to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable victims. I have also asked Fr. Mark Holland to serve as a relief coordinator for the Baton Rouge area. In the days and weeks to come we will be moving from emergency relief to long term disaster recovery and assistance. I will be in touch with you as we move through this process. Our friends in other dioceses have already reached out to offer their assistance.
At the bottom of this letter I have included important contact information for donations, relief and assistance. Please contact the diocese if you need any other assistance.
I leave you with a prayer from Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2009)
Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave his friend Lazarus: Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullnesss of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savor and Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana
Disaster Coordinator: Deacon Elaine Clements, Diocese of Louisiana. firstname.lastname@example.org
Canon to the Ordinary: The Rev. Canon Shannon Manning, Diocese of Louisiana. 504-895-6634 or email@example.com
We are in the process of compiling needs/those who can provide assistance. Please contact Elaine Clements so that we can coordinate efforts.
We have complied a list of ways to donate to help with relief efforts. No donation is too small and all donations will have a positive impact on those will be facing the difficult task of rebuilding their lives.
Episcopal Relief and Development US Disaster Relief Fund
We will soon receive an emergency assistance grant from Episcopal Relief and Development so our churches in the flood area can assist the most vulnerable people in their communities. Please consider making a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development to support this important work. (http://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/donate-now/individual-donation)
Bishop’s Discretionary Fund
The Bishop’s office is accepting donations (cash only) to assist flood victims. Please make your checks payable to The Bishop’s Professional Fund earmarked 2016 Flood Relief. You can send them to:
Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
1623 Seventh St.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Donation of Relief Supplies
It is reported that over 10,000 people have been evacuated to shelters. A number of churches are volunteering to assist the thousands of people sheltering at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge. Donations are needed. Please, no clothing, and do not buy in bulk. It easier to distribute items packaged in individual quantities. You can bring donations to Celtic Studios, located at 10000 Celtic Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.
- Gift cards to local stores
- Unopened toiletries and hygiene products
- diapers and other baby supplies, individually packaged
- bedding-new, preferably packaged
- phone chargers-all types
- First Aid supplies
FEMA is opening recovery centers soon. There is assistance even for those who do not have flood insurance. Governor John Bell Edwards is encouraging everyone to “meticulously track damage” to their home to assist in the compensation process. Here are a few ways to contact FEMA for assistance:
Another way to assist people in shelters is by making a donation to any of the following:
- The American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/local/louisiana)
- Baton Rouge Area Foundation (http://www.braf.org/louisiana-flood-relief)
- United Way (http://www.unitedwaysela.org/flood)
- Second Harvest Food Bank with Rouses (https://give.no-hunger.org/checkout/donation?eid=91198 )
- Episcopal Relief and Development (http://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/donate-now/individual-donation)