On August 11, 2016, a “no-name” storm struck southern Louisiana bringing up to 30 inches of torrential rain – three times the total dropped during Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 150,000 homes were flooded, forcing many to face the overwhelming task of rebuilding their lives from nothing. Six months later, most homeowners find themselves still trying to complete or even start repairs; many homes sit abandoned and close to two million cubic yards of debris has been collected, with much more waiting.
At this point, the massive event is rarely covered on newscasts, and homeowners now feel the impact of life never returning to the old "normal." Discouragement hovers over displaced residents for most of their days..
Though much of the work of Hope Force volunteers focuses on immediate response after disasters, we welcome opportunities to return to key communities to assist in their longer-term recovery. In January, a team gathered once again just north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While there, an intense storm rolled through, dumping several inches of rain on already soaked ground. Waters rose to flood the same streets and properties as last August. Miraculously, the rain stopped mere inches of reflooding homes.
Whenever Hope Force deploys, emotional and spiritual care takes a significant role in our efforts. While bringing hope comes in the form of physical, restorative work on homes – compassionate listening refreshes the heart of those in distress.
As the rains poured down in January, we knew homeowners would be on high alert, feeling fearful and anxious. Our team took time to focus on a few who needed to hear “We are with you…what you’re experiencing is very normal.” One of the homeowners we visited was fearfully watching waters rise to her front step. After six months of repair work from the August floods, she exclaimed, “I can’t do this again!!!” Team members listened, encouraged and prayed with her. Another woman paced in the team kitchen. “Our house is next to the river. We are supposed to move back in next month. The road is flooded and the river is cresting again…. I don’t know what we will find!” Again, we listened and prayed.
Gratefully, the rains stopped just in time. To all of our amazement, when the sun broke through, a double rainbow crested over the flooded area. We continue to give thanks for the privilege of coming alongside so many in their time of need -- and witnessing miracles along the way!
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