Hurricane Laura Lashes Louisiana, Convoy of Hope on Site
With estimates ranging from half-a-million to nearly a million people without power, hundreds of thousands with water system outages, countless homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, and at least six deaths, Laura, a Category 4 hurricane, left a devastating swath of destruction through southwest Louisiana and a portion of far eastern Texas on Thursday.
Jeff Nene, national spokesperson for Convoy of Hope, says the compassion organization had nearly 20 vehicles, including six tractor trailer loads of relief supplies, positioned to respond as soon as the storm passed. Last night and again this morning, portions of the convoy pulled into a Lake Charles, Louisiana, church parking lot to set up a command compound at one end and a point of distribution at the other.
“The point of distribution will be near the street where cars can drive through, volunteers from the church can load the supplies, and cars can drive out,” Nene says. However, he isn’t sure what the initial demand for relief supplies will be until debris is cleared from the streets. “When our guys came in last night, the water was about a foot deep, but there were trees across the roads; they had a crew out in front with chainsaws cutting a lane to get the tractor trailers and other vehicles through — we had to follow that same path.”
Currently, little is known as far as damages to AG churches in the path of Hurricane Laura as ministers evacuated from the shore area and communication from churches is only starting to trickle in. The South Texas district had about half of the churches reporting so far, with only one church reporting minor damage. The Texas Louisiana Hispanic district believes it only had two churches in the path of the storm, but the pastors had evacuated and have not yet returned. The Louisiana Ministry Network, located in Alexandria, was unable to be reached, however damage to Glad Tidings Church in Lake Charles has been posted to Facebook.
Damage to other AG churches in Lake Charles as well as communities and churches within a 50-mile radius (possibly further) is almost a certainty as Lake Charles is without power or water, and Nene reports damage is widespread.
“Coming into town, it was pretty much a blanket (of destruction),” he says. “Anywhere you look, there is going to be needs — it’s going to be a big process for us, a big response, and it’s going to take us some time.”
Nene says that as Convoy of Hope is continuing to respond to the COVID crisis, they have run out of trucks and had to hire trucking companies to transport some of the relief supplies to Louisiana. But he doesn’t expect for Convoy to be leaving Louisiana anytime soon.
“We have about 200,00 pounds of relief supplies here now and a truckload of ice coming in later today — and that’s just today,” Nene says. “Now that we’ve established a hub, we may start setting up smaller hubs in the community — though there may also be churches coming in with their vans and trailers and picking up supplies and taking them into neighborhoods.”
For those wanting to assist Convoy of Hope, but can’t travel, Nene says there is a big need for baby kits with diapers and wipes along with hygiene kits.
Individuals, groups, churches, and companies can help by purchasing supplies and assembling kits. To find a list of approved items, instructions, and to register, go to convoyofhope.org/kits. Once registered, a Convoy of Hope staff member will be in contact to answer questions and provide drop off information.
For an AG Disaster Relief video message from AG General Superintendent Doug Clay and Convoy of Hope President Hal Donaldson, click here.