'Incredible need' in Louisiana met by incredible faith-based response

by Joni B. Hannigan |

(Lafayette (La.) Sheriff's Office/Facebook)

BATON ROGUE, La. (Christian Examiner) – With what is being called Louisiana's "worst natural disaster" since Hurricane Katrina — with floodwaters that hit the state last week and have now impacted tens of thousands and wiped away 40,000 homes — a week later a massive effort is now underway to provide food and temporary shelter to those in need.

Despite what many have considered a lack of attention on the national scale, Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told residents in a news briefing in Baton Rogue earlier this week the government is well aware of what has taken place.

So far, however, news that has percolated through social media and on local news broadcasts has shown families devastated by floodwaters, homes destroyed, dramatic rescues and clean up and disaster relief aided by faith-based and other non-profit organizations.

(Operation BBQ Relief/Facebook)

The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, which facilitates operations for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Ministries of Baptist State Conventions, associations and churches, reported it is deploying four kitchens to serve with the American Red Cross in Baton Rouge, Hammond, Lafayette and Walker.

And that is after dozens of reports of individuals, local associations and state conventions which have already joined efforts to help.

The kitchens will be staffed by SBDR volunteers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, according to Baptist Press.

First Baptist Church in Livingston, Louisiana will host an Incident Command Center and the Louisiana Baptist Convention state SBDR director Gibbie McMillan is directing the state's response.

Donations for this work may be made directly to Louisiana Southern Baptist Disaster Relief  or to donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for "Disaster Relief."

Samaritan's Purse is also mobilizing staff and equipment to provide emergency aid to the area.

Todd Taylor, assistant manager for U.S. Disaster Relief, said: "The need is incredible, and we know with each home we go to, we are being given an opportunity to share Christ with these people who are hurting so badly."

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In one of the most local and tangible ways of providing relief, Operation BBQ Relief, founded in May, 2011 as a response to the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes, and this volunteer group has provided over 700,000 meals in 19 states.

Currently deployed in Hammond, Louisiana, they are servicing shelters in Livingston and Baton Rogue. Find out more here.

Family Research Council is also helping to provide relief to those affected by the floodwaters, in coordination with Samaritan's Purse.

Tony Perkins, FRC president, lives in Louisiana and serves as interim pastor of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church which is providing hands on help in what is one of the hardest hit communities. Volunteers may sign up to travel to the area, pray or provide resources.