In the middle of August, 2016, rain fell in Southern Louisiana for days. Prior
rains had already saturated the ground and filled the waterways, so
floodwaters quickly began to rise. By Aug. 19, the flood had reached historic
levels-one of the worst disasters in the United States. More than 85,000
households sustained damage, according to FEMA reports.
Change can happen in an instant. Getting to a new state of normal takes time.
Disaster recovery makes this painfully clear. The stories of scripture also offer
a reminder of the sometimes agonizing slowness of restoration.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul, describes it as the "groaning of
all creation" as we await the time of complete renewal (Romans 8:22-24).
After generations of exile, the people of Israel returned to the ruins of
Jerusalem and set about the task of rebuilding the temple-a task which took
decades to complete (Ezra 1-3; John 2:19-20).
Even in the Biblical stories of our prehistory, the stories that grapple with what
it is to be a human created and living on this earth, we witness recreation
happening one slow, soggy day at a time. After 40 days and nights of rain,
Noah and the company of the ark floated adrift for 150 days before the waters
began to recede. On the first day of the first month of the next year, they
emerged on dry land to begin the new creation (Genesis 7-8).
The organizers of Camp Noah (a resiliency day-camp for children who have
experienced disasters) understand the groaning, the waiting, the rebuilding,
and the possibilities of restoration. Week of Compassion accompanied First
Christian Church (Baton Rouge) and other area organizations to host Camp
Noah this summer for children affected by the historic flooding that occurred
one year ago.
Since the floods, people have provided over 750,000 hours of volunteer labor
and more than $1 million in cash donations through more than 300
organizations, including Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and
FCCBR. Progress is evident in community partnerships providing assistance
with bills, repairs, and emotional health; in neighborhoods where homes have
been rebuilt; and in the schools that are welcoming students to a new school
Yet, recovery is a slow and uneven process.
More than 3000 families are still living in FEMA manufactured housing units,
with many more living in rental properties until they can get back into their
homes. Thousands of homes sit, waiting for repairs.
Physical recovery is but a part of restoring a sense of normalcy. Emotional,
psychological, and spiritual healing is equally important, and often a more
lengthy process. Camp Noah offers children the opportunity to "build resiliency
skills within the familiarity of their own communities, using a proven curriculum
designed to help children process their disaster and/or trauma experience
through creative activities and play," as they state on their website . Not only
does the camp help them process their fears and losses, it also helps them
"plan for an amazing future." Last month, 32 children from across the
community gathered last month at FCCBR to play, to plan, to continue the
journey of recovery.
Week of Compassion worked in partnership with Camp Noah and volunteers to
support emotional recovery in addition to material recovery. Together, through
Week of Compassion, you will continue to support repairs and rebuilding in
Baton Rouge and across other parts of Louisiana. The change, the damage,
happened in an instant-as waters crested doorways and evacuation boats
arrived. The recovery, the restoration, will take time, and Week of Compassion
will continue to accompany the community in the months and years ahead.
For information about volunteering, contact Week of Compassion Associate
Director, Caroline Hamilton-Arnold (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
visit: Disciples Volunteering.
To support this recovery and similar disaster responses, designate your Week
of Compassion gift: "US Storms and Fires."