It has been two weeks since Hurricane Laura slammed into the Texas/Louisiana coast and ripped through the states – hitting Louisiana particularly hard. Susan Luttrell, who serves as the Coordinator of Disaster Response for the Central Texas Conference, has been in constant contact with local and state authorities and relief agencies and provides the following update on the situation in the affected areas.
Hurricane Laura left quite a significant amount of destruction and heartbreak in its wake when she blew through Louisiana and East Texas late last month. The devastation throughout Louisiana is being absorbed by a state, much like Texas, that has already been hit hard by COVID-19. Their people and churches - again, very reminiscent to what we here in Texas are experiencing – who are eager for life to settle down and get back to some sort of routine, now find that hope pushed back even further down the road.
With communities large and small without potable water and, at best, spotty electrical service not to mention internet access and phone service, it is a hard time for our brothers and sisters in the Pelican State. As families in Texas struggle with whether or not they should send their kids back to school in person due to COVID-19, these good people are left to wonder if many of their school building are structurally safe enough to allow children, teachers and staff to return even if COVID were no longer a concern. As such, there is no virtual or in-person schooling options at all in the affected areas. There are stores open in some areas but with very limited supplies. When you combine that with there being is no restaurant or fast food available, food insecurities are a real and growing concern.
Still, in the midst of all the heartbreak and struggle, there is light, there is hope, because there is God!
You can see God at work all around. You can hear it. You can feel it. While the good people of southwest Louisiana are exhausted and storm weary, tired of having to rebuild while wearing masks, beyond frustrated with being unable to actually hug their neighbors, they seem to understand there is a brighter future ahead. Kids will be back in school; work will restart; and their church families will gather again.
There is a light in the destruction left by COVID-19 and Laura – it is a light that shines from the love of Christ knowing God is riding out this storm with them and God will not leave his children without hope. I could go on and on about the amazing people I have seen and heard of who are coming to help - and they are plentiful and amazing - but the ones that truly inspire are the people of SW Louisiana themselves. The way they are there for each other is amazing – good neighbor watching out for, cooking for, doing for someone else while dealing with their own issues. The good neighbors of SW Louisiana are a wonderful example of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.