By Tommy Rush

This week I traveled with a group to Hammond, Louisiana to help with disaster relief and cleanup from Hurricane Ida. The destructive power of a hurricane is pretty amazing. The homeowners we spoke with this week described the night of the storm as terrible and frightening. Hurricane Ida was a category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Anyone who’s familiar with hurricanes knows a report of winds that strong is serious and destructive.

In Natchitoches we prepared for Hurricane Ida but after the storm came on shore it turned east and missed our area completely. We didn’t even experience any rain from the storm but the story was very different four hours south of us. I spoke with an 82 year old man from Hammond today who described the fear he and his wife felt when the storm came through on August 29. Several very large trees fell on their house as they sat in the dark in their den. He said it was the most terrifying experience he had ever experienced. He said they went without power for 19 days but after surviving the storm, he and his wife were just thankful to be alive.

It’s been a blessing to see volunteers from several different states working together to help people and offer a little encouragement. Some of the volunteers have been working in the area for over three weeks. It is very encouraging to see so many people who are not only willing to come and help but they’re willing to do so at their own expense.

One good thing about bad storms is the way a bad storm can bring out the good in people. It’s great to see the smile on a face when the homeowner realizes the help is free. It’s great to see how God orchestrates putting volunteers with a person or family in need at just the right time. One lady we helped in Ponchatoula had lost her husband of 46 years to pancreatic cancer just two weeks before the hurricane. It was a blessing to serve her and be the hands and feet of Jesus to her. God is very close to those who are broken-hearted. Storms are never something anyone wants to go through but God promises to never leave us or forsake us. Tough storms have a way of bringing families closer together. Sometimes a hurricane helps us sort through what’s really important. There is a lot of work still taking place in the areas hit hard by Hurricane Ida but there’s a lot of good people working together to get it done. Keep our neighbors in south Louisiana in your prayers. May God continue to reveal his grace and goodness in the lives of those who are hurting.

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