By Message Staff
Tropical Depression Harvey appears to have left Louisiana Baptist churches without any structural damages.
As of Thursday, Aug. 31, no Louisiana Baptist churches had reported damage from a storm that wreaked havoc on nearly 750 Southern Baptist churches in Texas since Harvey made landfall in the Lone Star State Friday, Aug. 25.
However, at least one pastor’s home took in water.
Jerry Key, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in DeRidder, reported that his home took in a few inches of water come inside his home off Vernon Lake in Leesville. He said since water got into one room on the lower level, they are staying on the second floor in the house.
“We had minimal flood damage but would cherish the prayers for the clean up,” Key said. “Hopefully the water will go down soon so we can begin drying out.”
Meanwhile, Vernon Baptist Association Director of Missions Morris Goins was forced to evacuate from his home off Anacoco Lake late Wednesday evening after a Vernon Parish Police Juror knocked on his door and advised him to leave. He stayed the remainder of the night at the association office.
“We just gathered up our things and left,” Goins said. “We still had the lights on and are waiting to see what happens.”
Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft shared on a video posted to Facebook Wednesday night that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development had advised his office about the possibility of breaches to the dams on Anacoco Lake and Lake Vernon. The precautionary move was to warn residents to be prepared for any evacuations.
A number of roadways in Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon, Winn and Sabine parishes were closed on Thursday afternoon. Among those was Interstate 10 westbound at mile post 4 near the Texas state line. Louisiana State Police urged motorists traveling westbound on I-10 entering Texas to use I-49 north to I-20 as an alternate route.
By 10 a.m. Thursday, Harvey had weakened to a tropical depression and was 35 miles east of Monroe as it was headed to Mississippi. The storm is blamed for at least 29 deaths and dumping record rainfall in parts of Texas.
EVACUEES MOVE INTO LOUISIANA
On Thursday, shelters were operating in Alexandria and Lake Charles.
Around 2,000 cots were placed throughout the Alexandria mega-shelter at the LSU Ag Center Friday, Aug. 25, staff with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services prepared for the opening its doors to evacuees from east Texas. Other shelters in the state include Christian Love Baptist Church in Alexandria and Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, both operated under the umbrella of the American Red Cross.
“We stand ready to help our neighbors from Texas,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release. “This mega-shelter will provide a safe and clean environment where survivors can rest and receive the kind of care they need as they face the aftermath of this storm. DCFS Sec. Marketa Walters and her very experienced team have spent days preparing this shelter just in case this kind of situation developed, and they are ready to provide assistance. We understand what it is like to have your lives and homes completely turned upside down by natural disasters, which is why we are committed to doing all that we can to make this very difficult time as comfortable as possible for those in need. Texas has been an outstanding neighbor to Louisiana when we have needed them, and now we intend on returning the favor.”
Six days after Harvey made landfall in Texas, rescues still were ongoing in parts of the state.
The Louisiana National Guard, at the direction of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, was working with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines Reserves, Louisiana State Police and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to rescue Texan citizens from the rising floodwaters in southeast Texas on Wednesday. Those rescued were then transported to the shelter in Lake Charles.
“Louisiana is prepared to help Texas in any way possible,” Edwards said. “Fortunately, we are able to take care of the needs of Louisiana as well as provide the manpower and resources necessary to help Texas in its time of need. We’ve all been through this as partners in the past, and there is no doubt that we will get through this event together as well.”
The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marines Reserves have conducted air search and rescue operations in the Port Arthur, Texas, area. Louisiana National Guard airmen with the 122nd Air Support Operations Squadron, headquartered in Pineville, are providing aircraft communication support to the Coast Guard at the Southland Airport in Sulphur.
Additionally, soldiers with the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 139th Regional Support Group have staged commodities, which include MREs, tarps, sandbags and bottles of water at various points throughout the state in order to provide quick distribution to affected areas.
Through Wednesday, the Louisiana National Guard had issued more than 1,152 MREs, 3,000 bottles of water and 415,000 sandbags.
In addition to the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry was helping to move pets that arrived with their owners to seek shelter in state. By Thursday morning, 43 dogs and 18 cats have been reunited with their owners at the pet shelter in Alexandria. Another 70 dogs and 16 cats were being transported to Alexandria in two pet trucks.
“As Louisiana gets an influx of evacuees, we will do what we can to ensure their pet companions are nearby and taken care of while these victims of Hurricane Harvey cope with this disaster,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain. “As we’ve seen in recent years, family pets bring comfort to those who are in the most unbearable situations.”