How Gateway is helping with disaster relief in Louisiana
In late August, Joey and Betty Ann welcomed a small group of people into their home near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There were a few pleasantries exchanged, and then the guests proceeded to tear down cabinets, rip up floors, and throw out furniture. Flooding had caused their home to sit in three feet of water for two days, and Joey and Betty Ann had been cleaning out their home a full week before the team from Gateway arrived to help, but there was still a lot to do.
According to historical documents, this area hadn’t flooded in over 150 years, and about 80% of businesses and homeowners in their neighborhood—as well as a majority of other neighborhoods nearby—didn’t have flood insurance. This is making cleanup even more difficult as homeowners and businesses struggle to pay for their own repairs and replace all their possessions. “It was surreal driving around. The damage is so widespread and devastating. We’d go down main streets of towns and see everything shut down. It felt like a ghost town,” says Chase Willsey, pastor of Gateway Students and member of the first Gateway Outreach team deployed to help. “We saw houses and buildings with stains five or six feet off the ground where the flood waters rose, and we knew these people had lost everything.”
During their trip, Pastor Chase and the team worked with Bethany Church and their crisis response team to help the community get back on its feet. “Bethany Church has such a kingdom mindset. They are working with and supporting 10 or 12 other churches in the Baton Rouge area,” he says. “And it was really cool to see the Church, with a capital C, on the ground and coming together.”
Pastor Chase and his team of five staff members, as well as another small group of friends and family, helped Joey and Betty Ann gut their house—wading through sopping wet insulation, smelly mold, and severely damaged walls and floors—to bring them about 90% of the way to their goal. “I’ll never forget watching them as we cleaned out their home,” Pastor Chase says. “It was emotional, even for me, seeing their grandkids’ toys, ruined pictures, and damaged family heirlooms get tossed in a big dumpster. But, in the midst of it, they were still joyful even though they had so much further to go.”
How can you help?
Even after the news reports have stopped, disaster relief often continues for a long time, and this will definitely be true in Louisiana. Because a majority of homeowners throughout the affected areas didn’t have flood insurance, churches and nonprofits are picking up the slack to help rebuild and make homes livable again, and our church partners could use financial assistance.
For more information on how you can get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to give, visit egiving.gatewaypeople.com, click Give Now. Then in the Giving Type drop down, select Missions – Crisis/Disaster Relief.