|Katrina’s lessons helped Louisiana: church leader|
Residents in the College Town neighborhood of Baton
Rouge, La., work Sept. 1 to clear streets blocked by downed trees
following Hurricane Gustav.
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Sept. 2, 2008 | BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS)
Louisiana residents spent Labor Day nervously watching trees and power
lines fall as Hurricane Gustav lashed the state with high winds and
Shining through the rain, a large red neon sign on Interstate 10 asks
“God Bless Louisiana” and that prayer seems to have been answered.
Baton Rouge firefighters check Sept. 1 on downed trees and
power lines blocking roads in the College Town neighborhood.
The day after the storm, United Methodists in the church’s Louisiana
Annual (Regional) Conference are assessing damage and preparing to make a
tour of the state as soon as they get clearance from law enforcement
They are also breathing a sigh of relief that lessons learned from
Hurricane Katrina three years ago helped everyone prepare for this
“We were prepared. We contacted all our pastors and encouraged them to
evacuate,” said the Rev. Don Cottrill, director of connectional
ministries for the Louisiana Conference. All pastors have been
instructed to call the conference office as soon as they are able to
report on any damage or injuries.
Landfall at Dulac
Dulac, located at the tip of the state, was the entry point for the
hurricane, and officials expect reports of heavy damage. Houma,
Lafayette, New Iberia and Baton Rouge seem to be the places most
affected by the storm. The Sager Brown Depot, owned and operated by the
United Methodist Committee on Relief in Baldwin, was evacuated before
the storm hit. Officials from UMCOR are expected in Baton Rouge Sept. 3.
“All our disaster relief trucks were moved here before the storm, as
well as an 18-wheeler full of water,” said the Rev. Darryl Tate,
conference director of disaster response. “The trucks are positioned to
go out where needed as soon as possible.”
Interstate 10 near Gonzales is deserted during the landfall of Hurricane Gustav.
Tate said the conference also moved thousands of dollars worth of
materials out of Dulac that had been sent there to assist rebuilding
efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck in 2005.
“It would have been a major setback if we had lost that material,” he
said. “There was about two years worth of work still to do to rebuild
Dulac before Gustav hit.”
State officials and church officials are working hand in hand to help
storm-weary residents get back in their homes. Since Katrina, Tate,
Cottrill and other United Methodist leaders have been working with the
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency
“The next step is to make sure every one is out and to start clearing
debris,” Cottrill said. “Once that is done, the conference will be in
dire need of volunteers and donations.”
Donations to assist with relief efforts can be made to UMCOR Advance No.
3019695, “Hurricanes 2008, Hurricane Gustav,” for this emergency.
Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write
the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check. Credit-card
donations can be made online at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.cfm?code=3019695&id=3019695.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audio: The Rev. Don Cottrill
“We’re putting out the request for volunteers…”
“…most of that will be cleanup and debris removal…”
“…a lot of roof damage…”
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