By Gary D. Myers
NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana has been no stranger to disaster during the past decade. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravished the state in recent years. Once again the state is in the epicenter of a historic disaster.
During the past week, unprecedented flooding near Baton Rouge has displaced thousands of residents and ruined more than 40,000 homes. Twenty parishes were included in the federal disaster declaration. While the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary main campus is well outside the affected area, many seminary students and their families are among the victims of this tragedy. The needs are overwhelming and NOBTS is readying for a response as the event moves from crisis to recovery.
Ken Taylor, urban missions professor, led the first NOBTS volunteer relief trip to the area on Aug. 20. Additional dates and details will be published at www.nobts.edu/gatekeeper when additional dates are planned. Students may also join with the New Orleans Baptist Association which is taking daily trips to the flood zone. All students are encouraged to join in the seminary’s relief efforts or volunteer with for relief trips planned by local Baptists churches and enitities.
“The flooding rains and rising rivers that hit South Louisiana during the last several days have created a monumental catastrophe causing severe damages in homes, churches and businesses far too numerous to list. It will affect our area for a long time to come,” said New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley. “Thousands need food, clothing, and shelter. There will be an enormous need for workers to help rebuild entire communities.”
Kelley said that those who wish to help seminary students affected by the flood may send designated donations to the seminary. Monetary donations should be sent to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Office of Institutional Advancement, 3939 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126. All gifts marked as “flood relief” will be used to help NOBTS students impacted by the disaster.
New Orleans Seminary’s Office of Student Services staff is currently working to identify and communicate with all the students and other members of the seminary family affected by the flooding. So far the office has discovered approximately 240 students from the affected areas and is reaching out to those students to asset their needs. However, the expanding crisis could affect additional students over the next few days as new areas have been added to the flood watch area.
Those who wish to donate to general relief efforts should contact the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) at louisianabaptists.org or the New Orleans Baptist Association (NOBA) at joinnoba.com/give-to-noba-flood-relief-efforts. NOBA is accepting material donations, such as bottles of water or non-perishable food items at the Baptist Building, 2222 Lakeshore Drive, in New Orleans, LA 70122. The Lifeway store on the NOBTS campus has teamed with Celebration Church's relief efforts and will serve as a drop-off location for a number of supplies (see celebrationchurch.org/disasterrelief for complete list of items).
“The three best ways to help are to volunteer to work on an SBC disaster relief team, donate gifts of cash to those helping the affected and those affected, or donate Walmart gift cards to families affected,” Kelley said. “These are the things that helped us the most after Hurricane Katrina.”
Use #LaFlood2016 in Twitter to find the latest updates from local news agencies, Baptist entities and churches.
Resourses, Information and Relief Trip Opportunities
Donate Supplies (visit link or contact regarding what items are accepted)
Grace Memorial Baptist Church (Slidell)
Contact: (985) 643-6017
Volunteer for a Disaster Relief Trip
New Orleans Baptist Association (NOBA)
NOBA is making daily trips to the flood zone.
Canal Street Church
Trips on 8/19, 8/25, and 8/26
Contact: Mario - (225) 362-9719
Trips on 8/20, ongoing
First Baptist New Orleans
Trips on 8/20 and 8/22
Trip on 8/20
Trip on 8/27