Report from Baton Rouge, August 2016

20160831_095213It Is now mid-week since arriving in Louisiana to work in the flood zone.  The time has been busy but well spent.  Our luxurious accommodations are twelve men in a Church Sunday School room.  All together tonight there are 132 volunteers on site, plus the 12 chaplains. The two shower trailers are very busy from the time the teams return in the afternoon till late in the evening when the chaplains are allowed some personal time.   By Friday it is expected there will be 209 volunteers at this site.

There is a team of twelve chaplains working out of this one site in East Baton Rouge.  Two other sites, one in Lafayette, LA and another in Gonzalez, LA. are also operating. The chaplains are all members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team.  All of us have had training for working in trauma and disasters areas.  Our purpose is to offer emotional and spiritual support to people in need.  We are a ministry of Jesus Christ.  In the last three days just my partner and I have prayed with over 100 people.

Some of those we meet have been in very difficult situations.  There was no warning of flood.  Monday a flooded elderly couple shared they literally woke up in the morning and stepped out of their beds into a foot of water. Houses has from 12 inches to 7 feet of water in them.  Of course there had been rain.  It had been raining for weeks.  No one expected 20 to 30 inches in twenty-four hours.  Today has been the first day with no rain.

Samaritans Purse was one of the first disaster relief agencies to arrive on scene.  In the last two weeks, this site, has completed over 300 house clean outs and mud outs.  There is currently a list of over 1,300 work orders. The list grows daily. SP has committed to being here into November.

It has been asked, “what criteria is used to decided who receives help?  This is a working class community where many people worked in the chemical and petrol industry which line the lower Mississippi.  Many are retired.  Those who have the number one priority are emergency personnel:  Firefighters, police and law enforcement, EMT’s. Then come elderly and homebound, single mothers with children, the ill and infirm, and then others in need.  There is NO cost to the homeowners.  All these volunteers have come at their own expense to share the love of Jesus Christ. The expense is paid through donations to Samaritans puse.

Remember is was just in July that several police officers where shot and killed here in Baton Rouge.  Our RRT chaplains were also here to follow up that event.  Two tragedies of massive proportions in one month.

Tomorrow I hope to share what we as chaplains actually do in our work.  Pray for our work here.  It is 90+ degrees with a 90+ humidity.  Pray for the volunteers as they go out and perform sometimes dangerous acts of love. It is all done in the Love of Jesus Christ.