Friday, Sept. 7, 2008
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We thank each of you for your concern and offers of support as we seek to respond to Hurricane Gustav. As many of you are aware, Gustav knocked out power throughout our Diocese, and several areas are facing weeks without electricity. This, in turn, has created significant problems for people’s access to food, health care, and in some cases even safe drinking water, while also contributing to major fuel shortages. For many households, the economic hardship of evacuation--calculated for many in unbudgeted expenditures of gas, hotel stays, and meals away from home—has been exacerbated by the continued power outage. Relief supplies from FEMA, the Red Cross, and Salvation Army have begun to arrive, but lines are long and demand far outpaces supply. In addition, many rural areas are still waiting to be served.
The Diocese of Louisiana has been meeting these needs by opening hospitality centers at churches in hard-hit areas. As we provide meals and water, we also offer care, connection, and comfort—including, at times, simply the chance to cool off in an air-conditioned space! We are also working to supply material resources such as tarps, generators, and ice where they are needed most. Below is an update on our efforts; please know that we also remain dedicated to our ongoing Katrina rebuilding work.
You can help us to respond to the impact of Hurricane Gustav with your prayers, your financial support, and your help in locating needed supplies. To date, we have especially been seeking ice and bottled water. If you have any sources of large quantities of either, please call Ben Taylor at 504-258-7521. We also expect gift cards, grocery items, and cleaning supplies & insect repellent to be of use in some areas. Needs do change almost hourly, so we ask that you please contact Ben before sending any donations our way, to be sure that we still can use your generous gifts!
An Update from ODR
With the ready and generous support of Episcopal Relief & Development, the Diocese of Louisiana’s response to Hurricane Gustav is concentrated on supporting our churches to serve as hospitality & respite centers. This permits us both to help people meet their immediate basic needs (primarily for food) while also tending to people’s holistic needs for connection, comfort, and care. Most of the centers are based in areas where the church has electricity but the surrounding area does not, and we anticipate that several will continue even after power is restored in their area, to offset the economic hardship caused by the evacuation, loss of refrigeration, etc.
The following efforts are underway, most with financial support from ERD, and many with logistical and material support from ODR:
- St. Patrick’s, Zachary opened as a feeding ministry on Thursday, and proceeded to serve 200 meals in the first two hours. They served over 500 people on Thursday, and over 700 today. The ministry will continue tomorrow, with accompaniment from the St. Anna’s Mobile Medical Unit.
- St. Augustine’s, Metairie also opened as a hospitality center on Thursday and provides air conditioning, coffee, and food to those seeking a brief respite from the heat.
- Grace Church, New Orleans began a feeding ministry today in partnership with All Souls, and is seeking to expand its ministry of hospitality in the coming days.
- Holy Communion, Plaquemine, will open as a hospitality center tomorrow and in the meantime has been ministering to needs in both Plaquemine and Rosedale.
- St. Philip’s, Algiers, which also serves upper Plaquemines Parish, will also open tomorrow as a hospitality center. St. Paul’s in Lakeview was able to supply an initial load of ice today to St. Philip’s, and has offered more.
- St. George’s Dragon Café in New Orleans reopened on Wednesday night, serving dinner to National Guardsmen, NOPD, and many regular diners, and served dinner again on Thursday.
- St. Alban’s Chapel on the LSU campus continues to support the Diocese in these efforts with its warm hospitality to our team members.
We are also working to send resources to places where they are needed most. For example, we have been able to supply the town of Rosedale, which has yet to see any official relief materials, with tarps and other goods. We are also continuing to work on obtaining quantities of ice & water, and have several churches willing to serve as distribution points. In addition, Annunciation in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans has partnered with the Southern Baptists to operate a feeding and relief ministry.
We are grateful to all whose generosity, care and leadership makes these ministries possible, and particularly to the clergy and lay leadership of the hosting churches.