On August 12, 2016, as the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was coming to a close in New Orleans, the skies opened and rain fell on southern Louisiana like never before. An unprecedented, historic 24 inches fell on Baton Rouge in 48 hours. Other places had as much as 31 inches of rain.

To put this in perspective for Northerners, 1 inch of rain is the equivalent to 13 inches of snow. Baton Rouge received the equivalent precipitation of 24 feet in 48 hours. 30,000 people were rescued. 40,000 homes were flooded. 75% of the homes in Livingston parish were destroyed.

Two weeks later, over 110,000 had applied for FEMA assistance. Governor John Bel Edwards said the number one need was for volunteers to clean out houses. Mold begins setting in almost as soon as the water recedes, so they need volunteers out there pronto. 

Photos below tell some of the story, but photos can’t convey the scope of the disaster. On August 27, 2016, A little over 100 volunteers of the Texas Gulf Coast Synod launched from three churches: St. Paul Baton Rouge, Lutheran Church of Our Saviour Baton Rouge and First Lutheran Church in Lafayette. These folks made a big difference for quite a few families.

In addition, St. Paul Lutheran Church, under the leadership of Pastor Mike Button, has been providing breakfasts and dinners for 50 Red Cross workers, and many people from the neighborhood. Anyone who is in need is welcome:

Thanks to all who have donated and are donating to recovery at http://www.gulfcoastsynod.org/donate or LDR.org. LDR gives to case management. The Gulf Coast Disaster Fund supports congregational efforts to help neighborhoods and individuals recover. 

“Mucking out homes” means hauling out water-logged belongings, furniture, appliances, carpeting, other flooring, drywall and insulation to the curb. Then the studs need to be treated with the combination of water, bleach and mold spray.

Kudos to St. Paul Baton Rouge for feeding so many each night.