The flooding in Louisiana is the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Eleven lost their lives and well over 60,000 are currently homeless.
Yet what makes this disaster so devastating is there was no way to foresee or prepare for the destruction. The storm that dropped 31 inches of rain in just 15 hours and continued for days was not a tracked storm. It was not a hurricane, a tropical storm, or a superstorm. It was unnamed and received very little attention in the media, both before and after it hit, making preparation and relief efforts difficult.
Among those impacted by the storm were Latter-day Saints. Over 450 members were left homeless and two church buildings—the Denham Springs Louisiana Stake center and the Windbourne meetinghouse—were severely damaged, the flood water destroying flooring, pews, pianos, and even an organ.
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Local wards and Mormon Helping Hands have worked tirelessly to help muck out homes and to provide food, clothing, and care for families displaced by the flooding. Over 6,500 volunteers have come to help with the relief efforts in Louisiana, and another 5,000 at least are expected to arrive to help this weekend. (Read more about LDS relief efforts at Mormon Newsroom).
As a result, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards thanked Mormons for their efforts at a special sacrament meeting held for volunteers.
“’I am a child of God and he has sent me here.’ That is the first line of the hymn that we sang,” Governor Edwards began his remarks. “I have no doubt that God sent you all here.”
“Even though this isn’t a named storm, every victim has a name, and they are our brothers and our sisters in Christ,” he continued.
He talked about the gratitude he saw among the flood survivors and how it brought communities closer together.
“It’s times like these that communities come together, and not just the community from here in Baton Rouge,” he said. “I know that we have folks who have traveled from hundreds of miles to be here to help.”
He also noted that of those whose homes have been damaged, less than 20 percent will have flood insurance, meaning the volunteer help from Church members is essential in restoring their homes.
“I want to thank you. This is an example of a partnership we all need to facilitate to go forward between state and local government and federal government but also the faith-based community,” Governor Edwards said.
Though federal and state aid will help in the cleanup, Governor Edwards acknowledged: “It is always slower than the speed with which you respond. You can do things so much faster and because you can be there faster when people are in need, you are doing things better as well. So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you.”