Tropical Depression 9 arose and sped up fast to a Hurricane. Hurricane Ida made landfall near Houma on August 29, 2021, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Thank you for all the offers to help! Now is not the time to come. There are curfews and road closures. the best way you can help right now is to give. If you wish to give to help congregations get back up and running so they help their neighborhoods, you can GIVE HERE.

As the storm grew larger it was predicted to be a Cat 3 landing in Louisiana. Then later they predicted to be a Cat 4. Evacuation orders were issued for parts of New Orleans and Louisiana down near Houma.

As usual, Lutherhill in LaGrange, Texas and their Zion Retreat Center in Galveston generously offered free shelter to Louisianans.

Pastor Ben Groth’s and family (Bethlehem New Orleans) hung out at Zion.

New Orleans and the rest of Southern Louisiana prepared.

Saturday, 8:36 pm
Early Sunday morning, August 29, 2021

Sunday Morning, August 29, 2021 Louisiana braced itself.

Sunday morning
Hurricane Ida from the International Space Station. Shared on European Space Agency astronaut and Expedition 65 crew member Thomas Pesquet’s Twitter account.
Sunday afternoon

Ida hits one town hard:

Clinic roof ripped off:

Monday Morning, August 30, 2021 we began to assess the damage. One fatality. Power out throughout New Orleans, over 1 million people. our disaster team began reaching out to church leaders who had not yet checked in.

This is the intersection of I-10 and I-55 in La Place Monday morning. Impassable of course.

So far everyone who has checked in is fine. There is some property damage, but minor as yet. If you’re in Louisiana and have an update, contact us when you can.

Pastor Ben Groth from Bethlehem Lutheran in New Orleans said their chef is ready to prepare meals, if they can get a generator in. The synod has one, but roads were not yet passable as of 11:00 am Monday.

11:30 am Monday:

New Orleans mayor to evacuees, “Don’t come back yet.”

Jefferson Parish mandatory curfew until 6am tomorrow. “Stay off the roads.”

New Orleans schools closed through at least Tuesday.

Entergy CEO on power restoration timeline: “We don’t know.”

Kenner could be without water for five days, power for three weeks.

Hosanna Mandeville has a tree down on one of their temporary school buildings. Limbs down. Huge trees down on homes on Mandeville. 100,000 without power on the North Shore.

Bethlehem Lutheran in New Orleans’ Pastor Ben Groth evacuated to Zion Retreat Center in Galveston with some Xavier friends. Bethlehem’s chef is ready to cook for the neighborhood once roads open and we can get a generator there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

All flights at New Orleans airport have been canceled today due to power outages. Tulane University has canceled classes for two weeks, and sent students to Houston. LSU football team is also here in Houston. Some roads are still unpassable. Power out across New Orleans, and cell phone signal is nearly impossible. There are some public charging stations across the city. People are still being asked to shelter in place.

One of the biggest dangers right now is people driving through flooded areas, or carbon monoxide poisoning due to improperly ventilated generators.

Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mandeville, Louisiana

Interim Pastor Jerry Mansholt reported today, “I want to give a brief update to family and friends as well as members of Hosanna. Anita Mansholt and I are okay, the worst of Hurricane Ida occurring in other parts of Southeast Louisiana. We have massive power outage, 98% of St Tammany Parish without electricity, and probably will be for several days or a week. Lots of trees down in the neighborhood where we live, but no serious injuries or loss of life that I know of. Hosanna Church escaped major damage except for a tree that fell upon a classroom for our preschool. We’ll begin addressing that situation this morning. We’ll take things a day at a time, trusting God to sustain and guide us in the days ahead. Our hearts go out to people who have sustained much more damage and who are in more vulnerable situations than us. Thank you for your prayers and expressions of love and support.

Lutheran Church of the Galilean in LaPlace, Louisiana

President Bret Jacobs called, and Pastor Regina Hickman texted. They just got access today, Tuesday, 8/31. I’m sad to share that the entire building at Galilean in LaPlace, Louisiana flooded during Ida. Windows blown out. The roof will need to be replaced as well. $20,000 deductible.

Even more disturbing many members and virtually all their council have major damage to their homes. Roofs gone. So the bandwidth of the congregation is compromised. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over LaPlace. Here are photos.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Left the house at 5:45 AM for New Orleans to see Galilean in Laplace, visit others, and bring back one stranded friend who needs to evacuate.

Helicopter surveys of Grand Isle report that 100% of the buildings have major damage, and 40% of the houses are completely destroyed.

This day is the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Gustav, which landed on September 1, 2008 (Labor Day) at Cocodrie, LA as a Category 2 hurricane, then moved up through in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, roughly the area between Katrina and Rita. This caused the largest evacuation in U.S. history at the time. It is estimated that Gustav caused 153 deaths in the U.S. and the Carribean and $8.5 billion of damage.

We didn’t have time to visit all 10 New Orleans area congregations, but here are a few I saw.

Bethlehem, New Orleans

After picking up Joel, we headed to Bethlehem. On the drive we felt the extent of the damage. Trees and power lines down pretty much everywhere. Like most of our congregations, Bethlehem appeared to have minor damage. I couldn’t get inside, but saw no evidence of major damage.

Grace, New Orleans

After Bethlehem up Joel, we headed to Grace New Orleans. Again, minor damage. Fences and brush. Sign down.

Christ the King, Kenner

From there we went to visit Peggy Hahn’s parents, who are doing well, generator and all. And also to Christ the King, where there was some structural damage, and also chaos at the playground. The roof looked intact.

On the Way

On the way to LaPlace we stopped to take photos of the homes of a pastors who evacuated and is out of state. The area showed lots of roof damage and the usual debris.

Galilean LaPlace

As you’ve seen in the news, LaPlace was hit hard. We had to detour around flooding to get to the church. there are extensive photos above, but here are a few more. What’s even more heartbreaking is the damage to so many homes.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The remnants of Ida continued north, cause flooding in Tennessee, New Jersey, and New York. Over two dozen deaths in New Jersey alone.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The resilience of congregations is amazing. Bethlehem and Peace, even without power are partnering with areas that have power to provide meals for people in their neighborhood.

On Friday, 9/3, Bethlehem served 500 pulled pork sandwiches to the neighborhood.
Getting set up for serving at Bethlehem.
Lots of good people around New Orleans helping out. Photo by Ben Groth.
It’s so good to see people pulling together and helping one another in a time of crisis.
Hosanna in Mandeville, Louisiana passed out 300 sack lunches.

On the North Shore Pastor Jerry Mansholt says they are not yet holding in-person worship for this Sunday (9/5). They have electricity and some AC, but no water or internet internet. No power at Jerry and Anita’s condo. Grocery stores are sparsely supplied, and ice ran out yesterday, but some food is available.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

67 deaths have now been recorded. 25 in New Jersey, 17 in New York, 13 in Louisiana, 5 in Pennsylvania, 2 in Mississippi, 2 in Alabama, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Virginia, and 1 in Connecticut. Some are indirect, such as a man who was mailed by an alligator. Two electrical workers and several by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kudos to Texas Lutheran University student Madie Lake (Tree of life Conroe), who has organized a collection/supply drive to gather batteries, water, power drinks, non-perishable food, tashbags, and N95 masks. They are being taken to the NOLA area. She is working with the March for Our Lives group she is a part of on a phone bank to raise funds. Madie is working with Lisa Hoelscher of the Southwest Texas Synod to set up a collection point in the Austin area.

Many thanks to Inspiritus (Lutheran Social Services to the east of our synod) who have offered us a WOW reverse osmosis machine that produces water without electricity. This will be going to Christ the King in Kenner. It will help them get their preschool back up and going and they can help out the surrounding community with the need for clean water since they are still under a boil water alert.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Still hundreds of thousands without electricity and safe drinking water. We just got photos of Love Lutheran in New Orleans on the West Bank. See below. Pastors Ben Groth (Bethlehem New Orleans) and Barb Simmers (Peace Slidell) now have power.

Love Lutheran Church, New Orleans

Love had significant damage. Photos courtesy of Louis Sanders. Fortunately, the sanctuary was untouched.

How can we help?

Thank you for all the offers to help! Now is not the time to come. There are curfewsand road closures. the best way you can help right now is to give. If you wish to give to help congregations get back up and running so they help their neighborhoods, you can GIVE HERE.