By Jim Nieman
When Hurricane Ida roared ashore in Louisiana on Sunday, it caused damage and destruction that continues to be assessed, and it added to the mounting workload for IDES—the International Disaster Emergency Service—a Christian church/church of Christ organization that provides emergency assistance around the world.
“Right now, we have four major disaster fronts where we are working/providing funding: the Myanmar coup, Afghanistan crisis, Haiti earthquake, and now Hurricane Ida,” said David Stine, the ministry’s executive director. “At the same time, there are so many ‘smaller’ relief projects which we are involved in around the world.”
Stine said IDES workers are heartbroken by the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida, which made landfall just west of New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150-plus mph. More than 1 million people are reportedly without power.
The U.S. disaster coordinator for IDES and an experienced site leader were stationed just outside the projected path of the hurricane and were able to travel into the area as soon as it was safe to do so, Stine said.
“They are onsite in New Orleans doing assessment and prepping for volunteers,” he said. “We will be partnering with Journey Christian Church in New Orleans, Mandeville [La.] Christian Church, and Pearlington [Miss.] Christian Church. All three church buildings appear to have fared well in the storm, with [only] a tree falling on a garage at Mandeville and a collapsed awning at Journey.”
IDES is providing tools and a “skid steer” (a Bobcat) that are on location in New Orleans. Soon, a shower trailer will arrive at the site where a basecamp for volunteer workers will be established. Water and tarps are being distributed as preparations for recovery efforts take place.
“There is no power in most locations,” Stine said. IDES workers are planning to travel to Baton Rouge to assess the damage there and decide on the proper response.
“We will be set up for volunteer deployment in the next couple days,” Stine said. “Anyone interested in volunteering can email email@example.com to be notified when our sign-up page is up.”
During the period of recovery, IDES will continue to provide updates via its social media and website, but Stine said the three immediate prayer needs are . . .
• for those who have suffered loss.
• for volunteers who will be responding with aid.
• for opportunities to share the love of Christ through this disaster.
The organization is accepting donations for Hurricane Ida relief at ides.org.
EFFORTS CONTINUE IN HAITI
A different sort of natural disaster—the Haiti earthquake—struck just 15 days before Hurricane Ida made land.
“Our Haiti response has consisted of over $100,000 so far and [it] will be much more than that in the weeks and months to come,” Stine said. “We have been able to fund multiple teams of medical professionals to Les Cayes as well as a significant amount of funding for food.
“Our partner [there] indicated that hunger is always an issue in Haiti, but right now it is desperate.”
In recent days, IDES sent a shipping container to Haiti filled with almost 260,000 GAP (“God Always Provides”) meals. The individually packaged meals are filled with nutritious ingredients such as rice, beans, and other nutrients. Then, because of the urgent need, volunteers from at least 30 churches come together at IDES’s headquarters in Kempton, Ind., late last week for an “Emergency GAP Pack” for Haiti. That container will be shipped to Haiti next week.
“We have decided the current unrest makes it too dangerous to send teams from the U.S. [to Haiti] at the moment,” he said, but IDES’s partners in Haiti are preparing to have Haitian workers rebuild homes.
“It is a busy time for sure!”
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.