On 29th August, Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 Hurricane, struck the state of Louisiana. It caused great havoc and devastation, second only to Hurricane Katrina in the magnitude of its damage, amounting to at least $50 billion USD. The areas in and around New Orleans were hit by strong wind gusts of 150 mph. Entire regions were flooded and plunged into darkness, with over 900,000 homes without power for several days.
After Hurricane Ida made landfall, the National Disaster Relief Team (NDRT) sprang into action and established contact with key churches and organizations that could be vital partners in their relief efforts. Volunteers from Sri Sathya Sai Centers across the South-Central Region contributed various essential supplies, packed and shipped these items to address the immediate needs of affected communities. Two trips were made in September to churches in Baton Rouge, LaPlace, Dulac, and Lutcher to deliver essential items such as water, canned food, toiletries, and hygiene products. Six volunteers visited two churches on 11th September 2021. They dropped off 900 pounds worth of supplies which were distributed to 300 people in need. A second trip was made on the 25th of September 2021 with 17 volunteers dropping off supplies over 1,100 pounds to four different locations benefitting almost 400 people. More than 350 volunteer hours were spent planning and executing these visits.
During these visits, the team took the opportunity to assess the damage in the area and developed a strategy to fulfill the ongoing needs of the affected communities, with the help of other regions across the country. While opportunities to provide hot meals, providing tutoring to children in need, etc. are still being assessed, the procurement of essential supplies to be delivered on subsequent visits is already in progress. The possibility of conducting a health screening camp is also being evaluated.
Each of the churches visited was deeply appreciative of the help they received from the Sai volunteers. Acknowledging their efforts, Pastor Roudy Scott from King Solomon Baptist Church, Lutcher, Louisiana said:
“I just want to thank the Sai Group for coming from so far just to give us a hand. This afternoon we had a new burst of energy that came from the Sai Group. They came to deliver some more supplies to us. Thank you…. Thank you”
Pastor Norbert, Anchor Four Square, Dulac, thanked the Sai volunteers for their generous support:
“I would really like to thank the Sai group for coming here to Dulac, Louisiana after Hurricane Ida. They are really offering us some invaluable support and whatever we need, looks like they are open to giving. It is an amazing connection that we have made and a relationship that could be long term.”
The volunteers from Sri Sathya Sai Centers across South Central Region look forward to serving these communities over the coming months through their partnership with the local churches to continue to provide much-needed relief.