Prayers are requested as more than 70 churches in Louisiana and across states affected by Hurricane Ida have been partially damaged or totally destroyed.
The Christian Post said Louisiana Baptist Convention Director of Missions John Hebert released a list of structurally-dmaaged churches involving at least 70 congregations in the southern part of the state.
While Baptist Message added that churches in the Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes have been difficult to contact since these areas were badly hit by Hurricane Ida as per Hebert. In line with this, Hebert has asked for prayers for the said churches and congregations.
Hurricane Ida, whose Category 4 status has registered maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour upon leaving Louisiana on Monday, have already caused a million clients without electrical power and a death toll of 13 in the state alone.
In an interview with Baptist Press, Hebert also disclosed that Hurricane Ida's onslaught spanned at least 150 miles inland North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain to Denham Springs causing several communities in the area, as well as, in the parishes of St. John the Baptist and Jefferson to be damaged. Hebert said he is assisting pastors for the recovery of the churches in the said areas. The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, on the other hand, are focusing on the recovery of larger communities.
"We have churches ranging from desperate to recovering, and the desperate ones need help. They're below I-10. Insurance rates are out of this world. It's going to be tough for them. But most of our churches will be OK in the long run. It's just right now, we have a crisis at hand and we need all the help we can get," Hebert stated.
"Devastation runs straight up 55, massively damaged all the way to Denham Springs. Churches are just trying to get through the week right now. We're trying to just take care of the basic needs," he added. "But they can't think beyond getting the power back on right now."
The list Hebert released shows that, in terms of cities, New Orleans had the most number of congregations affected such as the Calvary East Baptist Church, Carrollton Avenue Baptist Church, Faith Church, Shiloh Christian Fellowship, Suburban Baptist Church Next Level in Christ Church, Living Rock Missionary Baptist Church, First Spanish American Baptist Church, and Global Maritime Ministry. Totalling nine churches in New Orleans followed by the cities of Houma, Hammond, and Kenner.
For Houma, these are Kingdom Life Fellowship, Woodland Park Baptist Church, Mechanicville Emmanuel Baptist Church, and Bayou Baptist Association office. While Hammond's include the Trinity Baptist Church, New Beulah Baptist Church, and Jerusalem Baptist Church. Kenver congregations damaged were for the Iglesia Bautista Hispana LaVina, Williams Boulevard Baptist Church, and Celebration Church.
Meanwhile, in terms of congregation, the First Baptist Church reported the most number of churches damaged that affected branches from Albany to Westwego spanning a total of 16 cities. This includes the decimated lone First Baptist church in Grand Isle that Hebert said is "wiped out."
"Grand Isle is wiped out. I'm understanding that the devastation's like we've never seen in a storm," Hebert said.
As previously reported, Hurricane Ida made the town of Grand Isle looked "like a bomb went off" as "sand and debris" were scattered everywhere and structures destroyed. Local officials have previously closed the island from from the public, including residents due to the devastation. The local officials only allowed resident to return to their homes on September 2 after initial clearing operations have been done.
Hebert revealed the need for volunteers to help the said churches in becoming stable again once relief operations have been completed. He said the next phase would be rebuilding the said churches.
"We need volunteers, we need money, we need relief supplies, and that's what we're focused on right now, is relief," Hebert said. "The next phase of this is rebuild. You help them get stabilized, and then you can think about starting to rebuild and get it back the way it was. We need help getting these churches stabilized right now."