Though Hurricane Ida touched down in Louisiana over a month ago on August 29, 2021, several communities affected by this tragic disaster event continue to struggle. ACS at the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference has been engaged in the Recovery Efforts under the leadership of Lavida Whitson, conference ACS Director, who had been gathering various goods over the past number of years. Fortunately, these much-needed goods that were on hand were ready to be distributed to community members through a Distribution Center that was set up in Hammond. However, there were some families that didn’t have the ability to travel the long distance to Hammond which led to ACS coordinating mobile distributions in certain areas. In addition to giving away supplies, ACS volunteers also assisted with debris cleanup.
On October 9, 2021, Sabbath morning, fifteen ACS team members came together to assist the small town of Maurepas by providing them comfort kits and cleaning tools such as shovels, brooms, mops, and other cleaning supplies. Initially, no one showed up, and then Lavida realized that they had done everything but pray, so she offered the first prayer. And then, another team member gave a closing prayer to request God’s presence in their work. At the close of his prayer, they opened their eyes to see a line of cars patiently waiting on them. At this point the team sprang into action and continued doing so until everything they had was gone.
While assisting in Maurepas, a contact from the Indian Nation had reached out asking for help. During the Katrina Recovery Efforts, ACS assisted the Houma Indian Nation for many months, and based on this history, they were asking if we might be able to assist with Ida Recovery also. NAD ACS Director, Derrick Lea, along with Whitson, met with the Vice Principal Chief of the Houma Nation to get an overview of what the needs were within his community and ascertain how ACS could be of support. The Nation was made up of around 17,000 individuals out of which many had been displaced. Even though rebuilding of the homes was determined to be the greatest need, clothing, bedding, and other household items were also in demand. The local ACS team is putting goods together for distribution in this community. They will carry out similar work in other impacted areas as well, in the next few days. “ACS will continue serving though the news no longer highlights this continued need. One resident approached me as we surveyed the damage to the Houma Nation radio station and asked, “What are we supposed to do?” While I didn’t have a good answer, I did express to her our intent of helping her and people like her with the goods that we have. My hope is these efforts combined with others will ensure a livable situation for many that have been overlooked,” stated Lea.