From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Episcopalians respond as Katrina batters Gulf Coast (Daybook)

From "Matthew Davies" <>
Date Mon, 29 Aug 2005 17:51:08 -0400

Daybook, from Episcopal News Service

August 29, 2005 -- Monday Mission

Episcopalians respond as Katrina batters Gulf Coast

[ENS] - Episcopalians are already responding to the devastation caused
Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall August 29 in Southeastern

With maximum winds estimated at 140 miles per hour, Katrina was
from a category five to a category four hurricane, sparing the state its
full force as it came ashore between Grand Isle and the mouth of the
Mississippi River.

The 11th named storm this season, Katrina forced one million New Orleans
residents out of their homes as they obeyed a mandatory evacuation
The city, most of which lies below sea level, has reportedly endured
extensive damage from Katrina's high winds and accompanying storm surge.

ERD acts quickly

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), which provides emergency
after disasters, was quick to respond to those caught up in the path of
hurricane and has mobilized in support of communities affected by the

On behalf of Episcopalians, ERD sent emergency funds to the Diocese of
Mississippi to help vulnerable people whose homes have been destroyed or
severely damaged. ERD support will help the diocese provide aid to
members through two mobile response trailers, equipped with supplies
such as
chainsaws and generators to assist in the recovery.

ERD officials are waiting to hear what kind of aid is most needed in
Louisiana and have offered emergency assistance to dioceses likely to be
affected as the storm moves inland, including Alabama and Tennessee.

Rescues from rooftops

After pumps failed in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, filling streets
with six feet of water, dozens of people had to be rescued from the
roofs of
their houses, an ERD statement said.

"We exist only because we are ringed by levees and have huge pumping
stations to pump out excess water," said Diocese of Louisiana
Ann Ball, who took refuge in Baton Rouge. "Even heavy rains here cause
serious problems. The pumps can handle about an inch of rain per hour.
If it
is heavier than that, the streets begin to flood -- trapping you
you are."

ERD announced that disaster officials will begin immediately assessing
damage to Louisiana and Mississippi.

Hurricane Katrina is one of the most destructive hurricanes ever to hit
US, the ERD statement continued. Experts estimate that it caused between
and $25 billion worth of damage. If the higher assessments are
Katrina will be the most expensive hurricane in US history.

ERD offered its prayers for the people affected by this disaster --
whose homes are under 10 feet of water, those who have lost family
and those whose businesses have been blown down and swept away. "Please
us in praying for people affected by Hurricane Katrina," said the

To make a contribution to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina,
to the US Hurricane Fund by credit card at or by
1.800.334.7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and
Development, c/o US Hurricane Fund, PO Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.

Local response

Brad Drell, a lay delegate to General Convention from the Diocese of
Louisiana in the northern part of the state, said that his parish -- St.
James in Alexandria -- is a second tier Red Cross Disaster Shelter,
will remain open in light of the hurricane.

"After places like camps and dormitories with permanent beds, we are to
called up pretty early in a disaster in South Louisiana," said Drell,
serves on the Red Cross team. "We have a long standing plan in place to
handle this; folks from the parish are already assigned to various areas
from intake and medicines to security and cooking, and we have a team
to deal with all the issues surrounding the storm, including linking up
the Red Cross to help folks find missing family members."

Even before its Gulf Coast landfall, Katrina first hit Southeast
leaving at least three people dead and more than a million without
electricity. "[There are] lots of tree limbs and shingles down, and many
us are still without electricity," said Mary W. Cox, director of
communication for the Diocese of Southeast Florida. "The worst of it hit
people in southern Miami-Dade County ... there are many folks with flood
waters still in their living rooms."

In anticipation of the storm, the diocese closed its offices from
noon. A note posted on the diocesan website asked people to pray for
safety of all who may be affected by this storm -- in our diocese, in
neighboring dioceses, and our companion diocese of Nassau and the

The Episcopal Church's Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies
offered prayers for Episcopal military, healthcare, VA and emergency
responder chaplains serving in the path of the hurricane.

Saving parish records

Once the safety of people is assured, congregations will turn to the
daunting task of cleaning up parish property.

"If the parish has commercial insurance, the first step is to take lots
photographs to document the extent and type of damage," said Lisa Fox,
Episcopalian and senior conservator of the Missouri State Archives in
Jefferson City, Missouri. "The next step is to get things cool and dry
quickly as possible."

Fox explained that the best way to achieve this is freezing items as
as possible, which will reduce the risk of mold. "Parishes might be able
transport damaged items to a location that still has electricity to
air-conditioning or--better yet--freezers," she said. "Once the items
frozen, the parish can assess the extent of damage and plan the recovery
operation." A simple "at-a-
glance" summary, explaining which media can be frozen and how to dry
is available at

"If no freezer or refrigerator is available, the best ways to reduce the
risk of mold are to maximize air circulation -- open all windows -- and
expose the items to sunlight," Fox added.

"Individuals in parishes without ready access to Internet resources
contact their state archives or historical society for help in
local resources and vendors," added Mark Duffy, director of the Archives
the Episcopal Church. "The most important advice an archivist would give
the face of moderate to severe damage is to immediately set priorities
what should be saved and protected and what may need to be left behind.
salvaging records, the records of members, such as parish registers, and
those that affect the continuing operation of the parish, such as vestry
minutes, trust registers, and computer back up tapes, are high

"The best resource will be found in getting volunteers who can be lined
quickly to help in the delicate process of handling, identifying,
photographing, cleaning, and moving items to drier quarters. Getting
from local networks and using community contacts for such supplies as
paper, freezers, and folding tables will usually occupy the early hours
intervention," said Duffy.

To develop an action plan for recovery and preservation of records,
parishioners or parish staff can also contact archivists at the
Church Archives at 800.525.9329 for guidance and help.

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