Hurricane Isaac Update

Hurricane Isaac made landfall last night as a slow moving Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 40 to 80 miles per hour. While it only is producing Category 1 winds, it is a large and wide ranging storm with a significant storm surge that will continue to produce drenching rains from the Florida panhandle to the eastern coast of Texas. The storm is extremely slow moving and is still over the Louisiana coast where it continues to sustain its energy from the waters of the gulf.

The continued storm surge combined with high tides will significantly add to the coastal flooding. Damage assessments cannot start until to storm moves past the coast.  As it moves north, heavy rains can be expected to cause significant inland flooding.  It is also not uncommon for tornadoes to spin off from a hurricane.

The town of Plaquemines, La., (south of Baton Rouge) has been flooded when Mississippi River waters overtopped the town’s levee. Residents are reporting as much as 12 feet of water in their homes. Rescue operations are underway. Mass care sheltering operations are up and running in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Power outages are reported in several states. As many as 500,000 customers have lost power in Louisiana; it will take several days before power is restored. Earlier heavy rains from Isaac drenched parts of Florida and surveys are underway there to determine the storm’s impact. There was flash flooding on the eastern coast of Florida and some storm surge flooding on the western coast.

Week of Compassion has been in touch with Vance Moore, a Regional Pastor for the Great River Region, which includes Mississippi and Louisiana.  According to Vance, our churches and their members have not sustained physical damage, but remain “hunkered down,” as the forecast calls for heavy rain over the next 36-48 hours.  We will remain in contact with the GRR as the storm continues, keeping an eye on communities in its path.  John Mobley, Regional Minister in Alabama-Northwest Florida, also reported no needs emerging out of the coastal areas drenched by Isaac’s rain.

Our partners at Church World Service have dispatched Emergency Response Specialists to work with state, regional and local VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), partner denominations and other agencies to assess needs and determine how to respond.  CWS will provide material resources, including blankets, hygiene kits and clean-up buckets, as requested. Response Specialists will also assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans, providing technical and financial support, as possible.

If you would like to support these efforts, which may include supporting an appeal for material resources and other needs, please consider a gift to the Week of Compassion Disaster Response Fund

Thanks for your partnership, care, and above all, your Courageous Compassion.