Although its punch was less than feared, Hurricane Gustav nevertheless downed countless trees and branches, damaged thousands of homes, and cut off electricity to 1.4 million households in Louisiana after hitting the coast Sept. 1.
Particularly hard hit was Baton Rouge, where some 400 homes were severely damaged and another 2,000 residents reported slight damage from the hurricane.
As of Sept. 7, more than half of residents there still were without power.
Amid information gathered by the Synod’s Southern District, the hurricane:
The church’s biggest need right now, Schmieding told Reporter, “is for funds to help us rent a huge generator to power up our church and school” at a cost of about $5,000 a week. “We pray God will help us ‘power up’ to get some normalcy and ministry happening again for our families,” he said. “Baton Rouge Lutheran School has 198 students and our child care has 35 children. Parents are desperate to get back to work and get their children back in their usual routines.”
Other Synod congregations in coastal areas from New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla., reported no damages to church buildings and minor damages to members’ homes, according to Southern District President Kurtis Schultz.
Schultz added that an elder at an LCMS congregation in Lake Charles, La., was reportedly injured in a head-on automobile accident in Center, Texas, while trying to return home, and, at this writing, remained hospitalized in Shreveport, La.
According to news reports, 10 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Gustav — including six during the pre-storm evacuation. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called the hurricane “a very, very serious storm that has caused major damage in our state.”
A number of Lutherans reached out to local residents before and after the storm:
“We know God will see us through these challenges brought on by the third large hurricane to hit our area in three years,” said Schmieding. “Gustav is the worst one the Baton Rouge area has experienced in decades. We are tired and stressed, but we are still able to laugh — and even have fun — as we put our faith in action as Christ’s agents of mercy in the midst of a disaster zone.
“Our people are praying together, witnessing the hope of Christ to the Baton Rouge area, and are demonstrating how resilient they are as they depend on God’s grace in Christ. We thank God for your prayers, love and support.”
“The people, pastors, congregations, organizations, institutions, and districts of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod are to be commended for the faithful love, care, and concern demonstrated for the many people who will once again be displaced by a most unwelcome intruder from the Gulf,” wrote LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick in a Sept. 1 e-mail to members. “May our gracious God cast His mantle of protection upon all those in the path of Gustav; may He bless the hospitality extended to the many evacuees who are arriving in states across our land, in need of safety, security, shelter, food, clothing, and spiritual care; may He keep all affected by this powerful storm safe and secure in His grace, mercy, and peace; and may His love for us in Jesus Christ motivate our generous response to the needs of His people.”
For more information about the Synod’s response to Hurricane Gustav, visit the Web site of LCMS World Relief and Human Care at <A href="http://www.lcms.org/