Hurricane Katrina and Louisiana Flooding

Baton Rouge Flooding

Credit: John Oubre / The Advocate

This week Monday marked the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on August 29, 2005, in southeast Louisiana. That horrendous storm strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but weakened before making its second landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on August 29 in southeast Louisiana. Wikipedia provides details:

Katrina was the eleventh named storm and fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. The storm is currently ranked as the third most intense United States land falling tropical cyclone, behind only the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Overall, at least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest United States hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion, roughly four times the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Katrina caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge and levee failure. Severe property damage occurred in coastal areas, such as Mississippi beachfront towns; over 90 percent of these were flooded. Boats and casino barges rammed buildings, pushing cars and houses inland; water reached 6–12 miles from the beach.

Over fifty breaches in New Orleans hurricane surge protection were the cause of the majority of the death and destruction during Katrina. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighboring parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks.

In addition, earlier this month the state of Louisiana suffered heavy flooding from torrential rainfall that caused rivers to overflow their banks, leaving many people homeless. In one part of Livingston Parish, more than 31 inches of rain fell in 15 hours.

One Red Cross worker said, “Thousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need our help now!” Disaster relief folks from numerous congregations and agencies of our church body have responded with volunteers and monetary support, yet many of those affected have no flood insurance. The need is great for human and financial resources!

For more information on how you can help, go to http://southernlcms.org/southern-district-deploys-district-disaster-response-coordinator/.

Although Terry and I have never directly experienced damage and destruction from flooding, my mother’s home in New Braunfels flooded twice in four years. Through her experience we’ve seen up close the heartache and financial burden that result. Thank you and God bless you for responding in any way possible to help those facing this time of personal loss and need!

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Angels of Mercy

Flooding in Pittston, Pennsylvania. Credit: NY Daily News

Flooding in Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Credit: NY Daily News

Both in America and across the globe we continue to experience tragedy and trauma produced by natural disaster. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, floods in Texas and tornados in Illinois and Michigan have drawn our recent attention to the vulnerability of humankind to unimaginably powerful forces of nature.

In the news reports we often see photos of areas of devastation that once were cities or towns and survivors who are also victims searching through piles and pieces of what were once their homes. Even more sadly, emotionally gripping photos portray the trauma of serious injury or the grief of a parent whose young child was taken from their arms by flood waters or tornado winds.

Several months ago I received a note from Chris Wicher of the LCMS Eastern District, a district president friend of mine who had heard a story that some would dismiss as coincidence but, for people of faith, displays God’s activity in our lives. Here’s the story:

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A few pastors and other men were driving around the flood area of Pittston, Penn. earlier this week, looking for people who needed help in cleaning up their flooded homes. They came to a couple standing in front of their home, simply staring at their house.

The car stopped and one of the pastors asked if they needed help. The people responded: “No, not really. We don’t know where to begin and besides the house does not yet have electricity restored.”

The would-be helpers told them who they were and that they were simply driving around to see if they could be of help. “Besides,” they said, “we have a generator and pump and mops and buckets and Clorox.”

Quite moved by their generous offer, the homeowners took them up on their offer and in a few hours the cleanup was completed. If kindness and generosity were not enough, here’s the thing.

Not five minutes before the carload of generous helpers offered their assistance, the couple prayed to the Lord for direction and help! God heard their prayer by sending some very good hearted men. The love of Jesus moves us to acts of kindness. God be praised!

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For me the point of this story is that whether near or far away from the scene of any kind of disaster, God calls his people to assist those affected most seriously. Such folks could accurately be called “angels of mercy.” May their host increase!