When David and Deidra Scott’s home flooded three weeks ago in Denham Springs, La., they lost everything.
Among the things that mattered most was a trunk of photographs and mementos of David’s son who died in 2010. “Nothing was left to salvage except our memories,” Deidra says.
Today, the Scotts look out the window of a borrowed camper parked on their land where they see mounds of personal belongings sitting on the curb, rubbish ready for the dump. They consider themselves the fortunate ones. “Even before we could get back into our flooded home,” they share, “people from our church were calling to see when they could come help us clean up.”
David and Deidra are members and prayer leaders at Vision Christian Center (Bourg Foursquare Church) in Bourg, La., where Pastors Kim and Vanessa Voisin have mobilized the congregation to help. Kim and the couple’s youngest son, Caleb, are leading cleanup teams into Denham Springs and Baton Rouge to help residents gut and clean damaged homes before mold sets in.
Louisiana State Rep. Beryl Amedée, R-Gray—who also serves as an assisting minister at Vision Christian Center and as a trained chaplain with Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR)—says the flooding is unprecedented, with 20 parishes under disaster declarations and some 125,000 homes damaged. She adds that 20 percent of the damaged homes are not covered by flood insurance because much of the flooded area was not supposed to flood—not to this extent.
No one expected the Scotts’ neighborhood to flood, either. Experts set the flood level in the area at 25.9 feet, and David says this summer’s flood event set a new record of 47 feet of water. Deidra says a neighbor was sure his home would not flood and rode out the storm in his two-story house. “From the upstairs window, our neighbor saw white caps as the overflowing rivers raged down our road,” she states.
Some have called this episode a flood of biblical proportions. In one week’s time, more than 7 trillion gallons of rain fell in parts of Louisiana during the 1,000-year storm that produced three times as much rain as Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago.
Rep. Amedée says that in spite of the magnitude of this storm and the devastation caused by unanticipated flooding, she is pleased by the unified response of the Christian community.
Vision Christian Center and other churches in the region were deploying volunteers through the coordination of a large independent congregation in Baton Rouge until the response from churches became too large. Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief has agreed to manage the deployment of teams for all locations, and FDR is coordinating our Foursquare response through FDR-U.S. Dispatcher Gregg Travis, serving from Restoration-Birmingham (Huntsville Foursquare Church) in Madison, Ala.
FDR has been at work in Louisiana for a long time and had a hand in helping Vision Christian Center establish a food bank following Hurricane Katrina that has grown in influence and service to the community. Last year alone, Kim Voisin says the food bank distributed 750,000 pounds of food.
Now, because of the successful track record of the church’s food ministry, Vision Christian Center is among the key suppliers of food to other shelters and food banks in the greater Baton Rouge area following this summer’s flooding. The church was able to fill freezers at an area food bank with frozen meat in one delivery alone.
The need in Baton Rouge and the surrounding region will require long-term solutions and assistance. FDR wants to be part of the solution but needs help from our churches to reach out. FDR-U.S. Director Jay Donnelly says: “Foursquare Disaster Relief is dependent upon the generous donations of churches so that we are prepared and ready to respond when situations like this arise.”
For Rep. Amedée, this is all about the people of Louisiana, who she notes are the ones who drove to New York following 9/11 to share homemade jambalaya with emergency workers. They are the ones who made the trip to help people rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Now, she says, the people of Louisiana need help from others.
“This is an opportunity for church people, whether they have been saved one day or their entire lifetime, to lend a hand, to cook, clean, push a shovel, build something, or to simply hug someone and pray with them,” says Rep. Amedée. “Please, come to Louisiana and help. You will be blessed.”