Editor’s note: To learn more about how Texas Baptists are partnering to help Louisiana flood victims through long-term Disaster Recovery efforts, click here.
“The devastation in Livingston Parish is overwhelming.” Bob Page reflected on the destruction as he stood in the middle of a neighborhood in Denham Springs, Louisiana. The city and surrounding areas were all but destroyed in the wake of historic flooding of the Amite River.
A 42-year Air Force veteran and retired Texas Baptist Chaplain, Brigadier General Page said he had never seen anything like this. “It’s deeply disturbing and breaks my heart.” Thirteen people are known to have died as a result of the flooding. According to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, 75% of the houses in Livingston Parish are a total loss, leaving thousands of families displaced. Only 21% of the homes were covered by flood insurance.
The flooding started on August 11, as a stationary weather system poured more than two feet of rain on the area in less than 24 hours. By August 12, the Amite overflowed its banks and rose to levels never before seen, sending water over streets and highways and into homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.
As soon as highways re-opened, needed supplies started pouring into the stricken area. River Pointe Church in Richmond, Texas, gathered a trailer-load of food and supplies from a Red Cross list and sent Page and another River Pointe member, Dr. Curt Braun, to Livingston Parish, just east of Baton Rouge.
For Page, it was personal. He grew up in the Livingston Parish community of Walker. His sister, nieces and nephews, and cousins lost everything in the deluge that brought five feet of water into their homes. The nursing home where his mother lived was destroyed. Thankfully, she was evacuated with the other residents before the Amite River’s swift current overflowed its banks and came racing through the nursing home up to the ceiling. Page’s entire family survived the disaster.
As the supplies were distributed to more than 120 families, Page and Braun went to work at a home in Denham Springs helping to clean out the mud, and tear out the sheetrock and insulation.
“As we worked, the pile of trash by the road grew into a mountain. Everything was lost. Looking down the road, it was the same for all the neighbors I could see. The contents of every house was piled on the side of the road.”
A number of organizations are working in southern Louisiana, but more needs to be done.
“It will take years to rebuild,” Page said. “I know God will bring the people and resources to help.”
Page encourages all Texas Baptists to pray for their neighbors to the east.
“Pick an area to pray for, send supplies, financial gifts, or teams,” he said, “They need our help.”