Today is August 29, which is a day on the annual calendar that people in Southeast Louisiana necessarily don’t look forward to. That’s because August 29 is the date when Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, Isaac, and Ida all impacted our region. Katrina in 2005 was the most devastating storm of our lifetime – 108,000 square miles of destruction, 1700 deaths, and over 200,000 damaged homes and businesses, which resulted in many people being permanently displaced to other cities and states. Hurricane Isaac in 2012 brought flooding destruction to the residents of Laplace, some who had moved to that area after Katrina. And, of course, we’re still dealing with the damage caused by Hurricane Ida on this date last year. Some of our people are still putting their homes back together, and here at Celebration, we’re still working on 4 of the 5 Campuses that were significantly damaged by Ida’s winds and water.
There are some valuable lessons I’ve learned from these storms that occurred on August 29. One, don’t ever underestimate the damage that natural disasters can cause. Two, always be prepared during this time of the year to board up or evacuate. Three, I’ve learned a lot about the toughness and resiliency of people in our region. Our people here in Southeast Louisiana seem to somehow weather storm after storm and often come back better and healthier. But the best lessons I’ve learned are that God’s presence and God’s people will come to help us when we go through a storm like the ones we’ve encountered on August 29.
After Katrina, one of the Mayors in our region said, “The government and the Red Cross couldn’t help us. Thank God for the Churches and the Christians.” One of the Police Chiefs in our region said after Katrina, “If it weren’t for the Churches and Christians, our people would have starved to death for the first few weeks after Katrina.” Over the years, I’ve never been prouder of our people than when I’ve observed how they’ve responded following a damaging storm. During those times, we’ve demonstrated to the people of our region that we are a Church family that comes to help people when they’re going through crises in their lives.