Zeta Strikes Louisiana

October 29, 2020

Earlier this week, when Hurricane Zeta threatened the Louisiana coast, the storm became the seventh named storm to have its 'cone of uncertainty' include the Bayou State. 

Zeta began its trek to Louisiana as a mild Category 1 storm, but by Noon on Wednesday, the storm picked up intensity, falling just shy of a Category 3. It came ashore just west of Cocodrie, La., before moving over New Orleans.

Zeta was a fast-moving storm that brought significant wind (gusts as high as 90mph) and heavy rain. This morning, nearly half a million people in southeast Louisiana are waking to no electricity. 

Rev. Jan Curwick, District Superintendent of the New Orleans district, reports that pastors in the New Orleans district are following safety precautions as they check on their churches and people.

"Almost everyone is without power," says Rev. Curwick. "There are a lot of downed limbs and downed trees. A few churches have sustained roof damage and some shingle loss, but so far, it looks like no major damage." 

To view Entergy's outage map, click here.
 

"It Was Surreal"


Rev. Colleen Bookter pastors Belle Chase United Methodist Church, which suffered damage to its carport and Algiers United Methodist Church. She described Hurricane Zeta's winds as the strongest she's ever experienced. 

In fact, this was her first experience with the eye of a hurricane as Zeta passed directly over her. 

"It was surreal, Rev. Bookter says. "After the intense wind, there was calm and stillness. Everyone then briefly gathered outside to check on one another. There were shingles all over the ground and trees down. But thankfully most trees seemed to fall away from the houses. This morning has been all about teamwork; walking the streets, checking on neighbors and church members, and clearing debris. This tight-knit community of Algiers Point is even tighter now."

Rev. Bookter says she's noticed the presence of God in her neighbors. 

"All of us are knocking on doors, calling others, and making sure that everyone is okay," she says. "We are the hands and feet of Christ. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we are only going to make it through if we do this together."
 

Constantly "Preparing"


2020 has seen its fair share of significant events, and each situation has carried with it a particular form of preparation. The continual act of preparing is something Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey has been focusing on.   

"We must always remain prepared," Bishop Harvey says. "And while gathering water and batteries is important in our preparation, we must also be spiritually prepared. We must be prepared to answer the needs of our people and especially the most vulnerable in our communities. The events of this year are cumulative and compounding in nature, and the reactions and consequences are deep. We must be prepared to be the church as we address natural disasters and health, economic, political, and racial crises. There are also silent crisis - mental health, addiction. We must be attuned to one another in our churches and the broader community. We must be the church."
 

Continued Need in Southwest Louisiana


Bishop Harvey is also mindful of the continuing needs in southwest Louisiana. With back-to-back storms, the area remains in significant need of help and assistance.

Recently, the Louisiana cabinet joined Bishop Harvey for a workday. While there, Bishop Harvey recorded another video update on the great need and thanked those who have given financially. 



 

"Don't Lose Hope"


At times, it's almost unthinkable to step back and comprehend just how much Louisiana has had to endure in 2020. "So many of us are experiencing disaster fatigue," says Rev. Elaine Burleigh, Director of Missional Engagement and Outreach. "It is difficult to comprehend the extent of the suffering caused by these storms."

"Don't lose hope," says Bishop Harvey. "The power to overcome is best experienced in community. I pray that we will respond as appropriate and enter into a time of prayer for all impacted by Zeta and the continuing recovery efforts in Southwest Louisiana."

Rev. Burleigh says it's normal to ask, "how much will my donation, my time, my prayers really help when the need is so great?" 

"I promise you, every gift will help, no matter the size," she says. "Your gift will help a survivor recover quicker, return sooner, replace what was lost more easily. Your gift will make a significant difference to someone whose life has been disrupted by these storms." 

If you would like to help the response in Louisiana, you can do so by giving financially. Please head here: www.la-umc.org/relief 

 


 

 

 


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