News Articles

DISASTER RELIEF DIGEST: 70 Louisiana churches damaged; Updates from Texas, Georgia, Kentucky volunteers

First Baptist Church in Golden Meadow lost a portion of its roof to Hurricane Ida. Baptist Message photo

Church gives back during Hurricane Ida relief efforts

By Baptist Message staff

WELSH, La. (BP) – Shortly after Hurricane Delta made its way through Louisiana in September 2020, a team from First Baptist Church, Golden Meadow, arrived at First Baptist Church, Welsh, and fed hundreds of community members over a three-day period.

Now, the church at Golden Meadow has suffered damage from Hurricane Ida, so the Welsh congregation plans to give back to the people who offered so much to their area.

First Baptist Golden Meadow is one of at least 70 churches damaged by Hurricane Ida. See a complete list here.

FBC Welch Pastor Pat Deshotel said members designated $3,000 to donate to the Golden Meadow church in memory of member Claude Fontenot, who served as pastor there from 1961-1982 and died in August.

“They came to help us right after the hurricane last year and we wanted to return the favor by paying it forward,” Deshotel said. “The Bible tells us to love one another and I can’t think of a better way of obeying that commandment than showing love to that church.”

First Baptist Welsh is among the many churches that are giving back to those impacted by Ida.

Others interested in donating money to disaster relief efforts can click here to donate online, or send such gifts by mail: Louisiana Baptist Convention, P.O. Box 311, Alexandria, Louisiana.

Volunteers are needed to serve on chain saw, assessor, mud-out, tarp and chaplaincy teams. Individuals can sign up online via this link or call 800-410-3492.

Louisiana Baptist Missions and Ministry Team Director John Hebert said some of the most pressing needs are for propane fuel, gasoline and water. A more in-depth list can be accessed online.

“The need for essential supplies is staggering,” Hebert said. “Louisiana churches should collect everything they can collect for the area and call us for a location to send them to. Gas is slowly coming back where they run generator power and most service stations can only run one pump. There are massive lines down there at stations. Please pray about where you can help.”

SBTC volunteers serve 20,000 hot dogs a day

By Jane Rodgers/Southern Baptist TEXAN

GONZALES, La. (BP) – Twenty thousand hot dogs is a lot. But every hot meal (each containing two hot dogs) was appreciated by the survivors of Hurricane Ida who received the food prepared by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers and delivered to area shelters and neighborhoods by the Salvation Army.

“More wieners and fajitas than I want to see again for a while,” said Debby Nichols of De Kalb, Texas who is serving as lead cook for the SBTC DR mass feeding team of 18 volunteers from the Unity Baptist Association near Lufkin and serving in Gonzales, La., in support of the Salvation Army.

The Unity crew began cooking Aug. 31. Because the demand has been so great, a second mass feeding unit from First Baptist Pflugerville arrived on site late on Sept. 1 and set up the larger kitchen the next day.

It took the Pflugerville team 11 rather than the expected 7 hours to make the trek from Central Texas to Louisiana because of heavy traffic at the state border, team leader Mike Northen told the TEXAN.

Feeding teams began preparing 10,000 meals per day on Aug. 31 and prepared to double that by Sept. 3.

Read the full story here.

Georgia Baptist volunteers an answer to prayer

By Roger Alford/Christian Index

KENTWOOD, La. – Arzo Grayson Jr. didn’t know what he was going to do about the massive pine tree that had crashed through his roof, huge limbs protruding into his bedroom and living room, courtesy of Hurricane Ida.

The 66-year-old Army veteran had narrowly escaped being crushed. His house wasn’t so fortunate.

“I was heartbroken,” Grayson said. “I was sitting out in the yard, and a guy pulled up and said he’d remove that tree for $6,500. I said, ‘No thanks, I’m praying about it.’ After a while, another guy showed up. He had patches all over his shirt. He looked like some kind of Boy Scout. He said, ‘We can remove that tree for you, and it won’t cost you anything.’”

Grayson swallowed hard, then said, “There’s no doubt in my mind; that man came in answer to prayer.”

What Grayson thought looked like a Boy Scout uniform was the unmistakable attire of a Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer. These folks always rush into disaster areas like Kentwood, doing what’s necessary to get victims back on their feet.

Grayson had never heard of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief before the volunteers began showing up. They prayed with him. They offered encouragement. And they sawed the enormous tree into small pieces and carried them away.

Over the Labor Day weekend, while most Americans enjoyed leisurely time away from work, Disaster Relief volunteer Jeff Carter and his team were hard at work in 90-plus degree temperatures. An unrelenting Louisiana sun and high humidity make it feel much hotter.

“The heat is rough,” said Carter, wearing the blue hat identifying him as team leader. “But it’s rewarding work, and that keeps us going.”

Read the full story here.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers find new friend in Sally the mule

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

HOUMA, La. (BP) – Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief’s world-class feeding team has a new friend – Sally the mule, whose belly is getting full through the warm-hearted actions of the volunteers.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers fed a mule named Sally in Houma, Louisiana, at the request of a man whose home had been badly damaged.

Disaster Relief volunteers never know who – or what – God is going to put in their path. On the trip to help in hurricane-stricken Houma, La., last week, the team stopped for the night in Ellisville, Miss., about a three-hour drive from their destination. The plan was to leave the next morning by 8 but most everybody was ready by 7.

They went across the street to gas up and hit the road. A man named Ron came up to them and asked if they were headed south. When he found out they were going to Houma, he said that’s where he lived, which ignited a 30-minute Gospel conversation and ended with an introduction to Sally the mule.

“He got to telling me about his house and the night when Hurricane Ida hit,” said volunteer Karen Smith. “He rode the storm out with his wife, who was ill.”

Ron described the harrowing night when the eye of the storm left a path of destruction in Houma. The roof bounced up and down and the walls went in and out, he said. The winds and rains were frightening as they whistled through the home. The couple hunkered down together and prayed their house would not come apart.

Smith, who is always looking for opportunities to share the Gospel, asked him if he knew the Lord and he said he did. “I tapped his head and said, ‘Do you know him there?’ and I tapped his heart and said, ‘Or do you know him there?’ He said, tapping his heart, ‘I know him right there.’’’

Once the storm passed, Ron took his wife to a camp house they had in Mississippi because his home, like so many others in the area, had been so badly damaged. He hadn’t returned since the storm, and his mule hadn’t eaten in a few days.

Smith told him the church where they would be staying was only two blocks from his home. When they arrived, the team went over and accessed the damage to Ron’s home and also helped him with his other request.

“He asked if we could check on his mule and feed her,” Smith said. “We told him we’d come every two days and check on the mule. She gets two scoops a day. He said his son might be there and we met him too. We were glad to be able to help them. You never know what the Lord has for you to do to help people. This was truly ordained by God. We were going to leave at 8 and instead were ready at 7. We’d have never met Ron if we’d left at 8.”

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has an 11-member feeding crew and 34 total volunteers on the scene in Louisiana. Dave Hampton is leading the incident team.

    About the Author

  • BP Staff