By Message Staff
NEW ORLEANS – Just hours after multiple tornadoes caused damage in the southeastern part of the state Tuesday, Feb. 7, Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief teams were already springing into action.
Chaplains and assessors gathered Wednesday morning at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to begin assessing the needs for those affected by the tornado. Louisiana Baptists Director of Missions and Ministry John Hebert said it is hope to begin making assignments very soon in the New Orleans area.
“Right now, our teams are in need of prayer,” Hebert said. “We need to not only lift them up in prayer but also those homeowners and others affected by this storm. As more details are released about the needs, we will respond accordingly and with Christ-like compassion.”
Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association’s chainsaw team spent most of Tuesday afternoon removing trees that had fallen onto homes in Watson, according to Howard Turner, a member of the team. They plan to assess more homes Wednesday and continue working on damaged properties through Friday or Saturday.
“With the way some of the trees fell onto homes, it’s a miracle we didn’t have several people killed,” Turner said. “The homeowners we visited with are grateful and humbled someone came to help.
“Pray for our safety,” he continued. “Some of these jobs are dangerous and a mess. Keep praying for our people that this would be an open door for the Gospel.”
Stan Statham, director of missions for the Baptist Associations of Southeast Louisiana, said chaplains and assessors in Washington and Two Rivers associations were praying with homeowners in the heavily damaged area of New Orleans East and gathering information on houses in need of repair. Among the buildings affected is Suburban Baptist Church, where Jeffery Friend serves as pastor. The church was destroyed in the EF3 tornado.
Tommy Middleton, director of missions for Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, and Lonnie Wascom, director of missions for Northshore Baptist Association, said their associations were awaiting assessments before their respective associations activate teams.
The Louisiana State University Baptist Collegiate Ministry plans to send a team of its students, along with members of a church in Wyoming, to work as a chainsaw team in New Orleans East on Saturday, said Sarah Farley, associate BCM director at LSU. The LSU BCM team most recently responded to areas in Baton Rouge and nearby impacted by historic floods in August 2016.
“The BCM at LSU has spent many years building a culture of going and serving with our students,” Farley said. “Because we have had several disasters impact us, we know how it feels to suffer the loss of everything. Our students know when a disaster hits, it’s not just an opportunity to go and serve, but also to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion.”