By Message Staff
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) — As the state braces for Tropical Storm Barry, Louisiana Baptists John Hebert and Gibbie McMillan shared about disaster response preparations being made in anticipation of the damage that could result.
Hebert, the missions and ministry director for the Louisiana Baptist Convention who oversees disaster relief operations, said disaster relief leaders already have put a plan of action into place.
“We’ve assessed our resources and issued alerts to our trained personnel to prepare themselves and their mobile units,” Hebert said. “In addition, we are ready to establish command centers, and our folks are maintaining a constant state of readiness – literally watching and praying.”
Hebert added that if the storm hits Louisiana, the disaster relief organization will respond immediately.
If the storm shifts course, he said “we are ready” to respond to requests for help from neighboring states.
“Our priority will be to assist churches, staff, then members,” McMillan said in describing how resources will be allocated. “After that we assist the people in the areas around our churches.
McMillan is the Louisiana Baptist disaster relief coordinator for the state.
“If they need food, the Red Cross calls and we respond,” he said. “If flooding takes place, we wait till the water goes down and we help people get the debris out and dry out and rebuild. If there is a need for a shower unit or a generator we can help. If a tree falls on a building we can help remove it.
“We cannot do it all, but we respond as we’re able,” he added.
The National Hurricane Center said at noon today that Tropical Storm Barry was located about 100 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by late Friday. Landfall is projected by early Saturday along the Louisiana coast but may shift to the east over Mississippi.
Barry is the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Total rain accumulations amounting to 10-15 inches are predicted for near and inland of the central Gulf Coast from Friday through early next week. However portions of eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi may experience isolated maximum rainfall amounts of up to 20 inches.
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Wednesday due to the threat of the system which weather experts say could intensify into a hurricane.
In New Orleans a number of cars were submerged on city streets and some businesses experienced first floor flooding after up to 8 inches of rain fell in some areas Wednesday morning
The city is closing all 244 floodgates to hold back the anticipated storm surge.
Evacuations were issued Thursday morning for all of Plaquemines Parish (mandatory for the entire East Bank, and Oakville and Venice on the West Bank; voluntary for the rest of the West Bank) and parts of Jefferson Parish (2 p.m. for Barataria, Crown Point, Jean Lafitte and Lafitte; noon for Grand Isle).
Plaquemines Parish officials urged their evacuees who need assistance to call 504.934.6940 or report to the Belle Chasse Auditorium. Housing has been arranged in West Monroe facilities and busing will be provided.
Jefferson Parish leaders encouraged their evacuees to move to higher ground.