NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Church leaders and those at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are taking precautionary steps as Hurricane Ida develops into a projected Category 3 and possible Category 4 storm.
“We are recommending at this point that we evacuate the campus,” NOBTS President Jamie Dew announced in a video earlier today. “This is not mandatory. The city has not mandated that or anything like that. But with a Category 3 or Category 4 [hurricane] we certainly want to recommend that you get your family … and perhaps this is a good weekend to go visit some out-of-town family members in other parts of the country.”
A campus picnic scheduled for tonight has been cancelled, Dew added, in order to give the NOBTS community extra time to evacuate and avoid expected traffic congestion tomorrow. Monday classes occurring or hosted on campus have also been canceled due to expected damage and loss of power. Campus will reopen, he said, once it has been determined safe to do so.
Ida is projected to make landfall Sunday evening, prompting churches across the city to cancel services for that day. Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Senior Pastor Fred Luter is recording a sermon today that will be broadcast Sunday, Associate Pastor Chip Luter told Baptist Press. Members of First Baptist Church have been invited by Atlanta-area Dunwoody Baptist Church to participate in an online worship service, said First Baptist Senior Pastor Chad Gilbert.
At 1:15 p.m. EDT today the National Hurricane Center reported that Ida had reached hurricane status with maximum winds of 75 mph. It comes a year after the Louisiana coast endured seven hurricanes in 2020. Laura, the most destructive as a Category 4, was one of the most powerful to ever hit the state.
On Friday, residents outside of New Orleans’ levee system including those in Grand Isle, 40 miles south of New Orleans, were ordered to evacuate, with further mandatory evacuations still possible. Workers from oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were being ferried to the shore Friday morning, according to Reuters.
Ida’s landfall will coincide with the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in more than 1,800 deaths and inflicted some $125 billion in total damages.
In the video, Dew strongly encouraged evacuation as damage, flooding and loss of electricity is all but certain. Those who have nowhere to go can make arrangements through the Dean of Students Office.
“The Gulf [of Mexico] is warm, which means this sucker could get pretty strong quick,” he said. “So let’s be smart [and] be safe. NOBTS, we love you. God is with us. We will be fine. … But let’s all be smart and do our part.”