USA (MNN) — Now that the fast-paced danger of the historic flood in Louisiana is over, there is one word that adequately describes the affected areas: overwhelmed.
EFCA’s Mark Lewis says, “As you can imagine, all of that water in such a short time, it caught a lot of people by surprise.”
Most of the flood water has receded, leaving behind death and destruction.
BBC News says 13 people have died and over 100,000 homes damaged.
“The result has been just devastating,” Lewis says, “There’s over 40,000 families that have been affected by the flood. From what we’re hearing — the data that we’re getting reported and from our conversations with families that we’ve been working with — probably upwards of three-quarters of these families are not covered by flood insurance. And that’s not a result of them being irresponsible, it’s just that they live in areas that have never ever flooded.”
Perhaps in these areas, the devastation is felt the most. You cannot prepare for something you never expect to happen.
Lewis said they spoke to one family who said in eight minutes, water had entered their house and risen to their knees. Many families left their houses with little more than the clothes on their back, just to escape with their lives.
According to Lewis, the recovery could take three to four years. The damage, he explains, is similar to what was brought by hurricane Katrina.
Overwhelmed: people and the local Church
Every person affected in the flooding has their own story. With that story, they have their own pre-existing struggles and challenges which make the flood even more devastating. It’s important to remember that with any disaster, real people are affected.
One man, Lewis shares, has stage four leukemia. He has no idea where to start. He can’t do the cleaning up by himself, and everyone he knows has been hit by the flood as well.
A local pastor spent days cleaning his own home. When he returned to the church, he was stunned to find that nearly a third of the congregation had been flooded. He, too, is at a loss for how to begin.
As Lewis puts it, “With so many people affected in your [church] body, how does the church reach out even to the people who are in the church?”
The general sentiment in the community is people are overwhelmed and feel alone.
“At the same point in time, there are many people who are super grateful to the Lord for His provision and His salvation. There are people who went through some traumatic experiences of being rescued, and they’re thankful to be alive.”
With a long-term recovery in view, Louisiana needs outside resources to begin reversing some of the devastation.
“There’s a huge need for the Church to come and stand alongside other believers who have been flooded, but also to reach out to the community at the same time.”
Pray, give, go for Louisiana
There are multiple ways for the Church to get involved with relief efforts.
Number one, Lewis says, is to pray:
“Pray for these families who have been affected and are just in that state of being overwhelmed, that they would experience a sense of peace from the Lord, and just a sense of assurance that amidst this sense of overwhelm-ness, God is bigger.”
Neighbors are helping neighbors, and volunteers are going out to help those most in need. Many of these volunteers are Christians who desire to share the hope they have.
Lewis says already, people are asking why others are helping them. He says it’s a platform to share the Truth and talk about Jesus.
“We are ambassadors of Christ, and we’re here because He loves you and He wants to have a relationship with you.”
Pray, too, that despite the challenges ahead, many will come to know Jesus in Louisiana.