By Staff, Baptist Message
As if the rain wasn’t enough, now comes the flooding and it could be historic.
More than 24 inches of rain has fallen in Louisiana over the last five days and residents are now bracing for major flooding.
According to the National Weather Service, record flooding is already occurring along a stretch of the Sabine River, the Bogue Falaya River in Covington and Bayou Dorcheat at Lake Bistineau and Little River in Winn and LaSalle Parishes.
The flooding of the Sabine River is being accelerated by the release of 207,644 cubic feet per second or about 1.5 million gallons per second at the Toledo Bend Spillway, which was constructed in 1966. In the next several days along the Louisiana/Texas border the river will rise to historic levels.
Residents down river are under mandatory evacuation orders as the river is expected to crest by almost two feet over the unofficial record set in 1884 in the town of Deweyville, Texas. The crest will flood numerous homes and leave roads impassable and towns isolated.
Thousands of homeowners in north and central Louisiana have already encountered severe flooding from the heavy rain – 24 inches in some areas.
In response, Samaritan’s Purse has deployed two program managers and two disaster relief units to the state. A base has been established at White’s Ferry Road Church, which is located at 3201 N. 7th Street, West Monroe.
“We will be conducting assessments, working in partnership in local officials and churches,” according to a release from Samaritan’s Purse. “Many homeowners have been evacuated, and it is unknown when they will be able to return to their houses as this is an ongoing weather event. Floodwaters continue to rise.
“When residents do come back, we will be poised and ready to respond alongside local churches, ministering in the name of Jesus Christ wherever we are needed,” the release read. “Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are also prepared.”
Starting the evening of March 14, Samaritan’s Purse will begin accepting volunteers and will commence work with day volunteers on Tuesday.
Sixteen Louisiana parishes have declared a state of emergency.
Rivers across Louisiana are breaking flood records left and right as heavy rains slowly inch south, causing flash floods in southeast Louisiana that are threatening businesses, homes and lives throughout the state.
According to the National Weather Service in New Orleans said many rivers over east central Louisiana are seeing moderate to major flooding. Showers, while scattered, have already developed over much of the state.
A flash flood warning was issued Saturday morning (March 12) for the Covington, Abita Springs and Madisonville areas, with the increasing threat of rising water from local rivers. The warning is in effect through 4 p.m., the National Weather Service said.
Flash flooding is already occurring in some areas along swollen rivers, the weather service said.
Floodwaters are moving down the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte rivers, which are at historic levels, from Covington to Madisonville, the agency said. Backwater flooding is occurring on the Abita River up to Abita Springs and other small streams.
Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom of Northshore Baptist Association has been extremely busy but stopped long enough to send an update and a plea for help Saturday morning on the situation in southeast Louisiana.
“The American Red Cross is “going where we cannot” and providing a feeding unit to support recovery efforts in Hammond from the massive flooding,” Wascom said. “They are relying on us to provide the staff to operate the unit. Our NSBA Disaster Relief White Hat and Louisiana Baptist Convention SE Louisiana Disaster Relief Coordinator, Tom Long, 985.960.2989 or firstname.lastname@example.org or NSBA Feeding Unit Blue Hat, Darryl Woolery, 225.572.8680 or email@example.com are the men to contact to find out when the work will begin and to sign up for a shift.
“Even if you have not received training, you can assist in this effort. Please get the word out to adult men, women and those students in the university,” he said. “That’s the folks we need. We need to get the word out.”
Wascom was also busy dealing with the needs of the churches in the association.
“A number of congregations will be unable to meet tomorrow due to inaccessibility,” he said. “If any pastor is in need of someone to supply because he is cut off from his church from the flooding give him a call.
“There is a lot of damage to facilities and we are getting a number of requests for help,” he said. “Let me know if I can assist in getting you some boots on the ground if needed.”
Wascom said hundreds, possibly thousands of people and families are homeless due to the rapidly rising flood waters in the rivers, creeks and streams and those people are in need of food and supplies. The area has received 10.35 inches of rain in a two-day period.
Woodland Park campus in Hammond has been established as a distribution and feeding area.
Meanwhile, men from two churches in the association assisted Collins Boulevard Baptist Church in Covington getting the church’s pews off the floor where more than 1.5 feet of water has gotten into the church.
“Please be patient,” Wascom said. “Everyone who is helping is doing so as fast as they can. I cannot thank everyone who has called and offered to help. I also cannot thank everyone for continuing to pray for each other.”
Anyone wanting to help can contact Wascom at 225.567.5086 or 985.215.9197 or email him at www.northshorebaptists.net; Tobey Pitman, firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.782.6122 or Kent Newell, email@example.com or 985.515.0539.