In the summer of 2016 Baton Rogue, Louisiana was inundated with flooding never seen before. High places that had never been underwater were covered and homes and neighborhoods were devastated. While the situation began in March with above average spring rains in Louisiana and places north along the Mississippi River, the major flooding happened in August. On August 11, 2016 the rain began and over the course of the next 3 days almost two feet of rain fell on Baton Rogue and the surrounding area. The news of this flooding had to compete with the Summer Olympics which were happening at the same time. The day the rain began Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte were racing against each other and the women’s all around gymnastics final was happening. I mention this only to give a sense of timing to the events – there is nothing that could have been done to prevent the flooding. Some rivers remained at flood stage for almost 10 days. When the water finally began to subside, an estimated 60,000 homes were flooded and 13 people died.
All of this is to give a bit of background why this is the place chosen to direct our servant efforts this summer. There are other places that also need help, but this is relatively close – in our neighborhood if you will. The level of national help was not a involved as compared with other natural disasters. Also, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has an established system of working in Louisiana stemming from the years of helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this trip we are tapping into the years of expertise and established networks to help people in need. I realize that this location is going to be hot and humid and the work will be difficult. The extent of the disaster and the relative nearness in our region and the need for help compelled me to offer our services to the people of Baton Rogue through Camp Restore.