By Joe Conway
BATON ROUGE – Slow moving storms began dumping rain on Southern Louisiana Thursday, Aug. 11, spawning floodwaters that have claimed at least three lives and led to the water evacuation of more than 7,000 residents, many in and around Baton Rouge. Within 36 hours, 27.47 inches of rain fell in Baker, just northeast of Baton Rouge, and directly into the Amite River.
“It’s not over,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters Sunday. “The water’s going to rise in many areas. It’s no time to let the guard down.” Rains continued through the weekend, providing no time for already saturated ground to recover.
Portions of three Interstate highways, I-10, I-12 and I-110, were closed by floodwaters Saturday in Baton Rouge. Much of the campus of Louisiana State University was covered by floodwater. The Baker Fire Department complex also flooded. The Amite crested to record levels in Denham Springs Saturday, and was expected to rise more than four feet above the previous high-water mark, according to The Weather Channel.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were aiding survivors within hours, helping where they could and beginning the well-rehearsed ramp up to service that will help bring clean, safe water, warm nutritious meals and compassion in the face of crisis.
“We are in the process of initiating a response in coordination with the Louisiana Baptist Convention Disaster Relief and our national partners,” said Mickey Caison, executive director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) through the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“The American Red Cross is already manning shelters, and they are estimating we will need as many as four kitchens to support their shelter operations. We expect to be asked for additional volunteers and equipment for as long as three weeks,” said Caison.
Communities to the south of Baton Rouge may also be affected by rising rivers and tributaries as the record rainfall moves toward the Gulf of Mexico. And following the initial response, SBDR volunteers will be needed to aid survivors with mud out, clean up and other service, Caison said.
“Please pray that those affected will be safe and our volunteers will be faithful in ministry to them,” said Caison. “It is our desire to bring honor and glory to our Lord as we share the hope of the gospel while serving others.”
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.