WINDSOR TERRACE — September 27 marked one month since Hurricane Laura touched down in Louisiana and destroyed homes, flooded churches, businesses and even displaced priests. Houses of worship were left without a roof and people hoping to return to the pews will find them destroyed.
Bishop Glen Provost of the Diocese of Lake Charles, La. told The Tablet that he estimates that out of the 16 buildings which were either totaled or destroyed due to the hurricane, half of them were churches. The roof of the chancery collapsed during the storm, deeming the building unusable.
“We are very much in the initial stages of recovery,” Bishop Provost said. “There’s a lot that’s being done. Every day is a new adventure because we never know what difficulty or what problem we might have to address on any given day.”
The diocese, in a report posted on its website, said that only one of its six Catholic schools reopened Aug. 31, while others needed repairs or were severely damaged. Bishop Provost told his diocese that one of the school’s administration buildings was blown off, while windows were blown in.
In terms of communicating within the diocese, the bishop said they’re operating solely on mobile devices. He was able to speak to The Tablet Sept. 28, he said, because of a remote device that was loaned to him by the Archbishop of New Orleans.
“Communication is a very iffy proposition at the moment,” he said. “We have no landline, no phone lines. We’re only operating off cell phones. No internet.”
One thing that was untouched, however, was the support of the community, not only within Lake Charles, but also of the greater United States.
“A lot of people evacuated,” Bishop Provost said. “But there were many who stayed and many who returned to help out. I have found the community really pulling together and very much involved in recovery efforts.”
According to the diocese’s report, phone calls have been pouring into the bishop’s office from Europe, in addition to a multitude of bishops, friends and civic officials. The Knights of Columbus donated $150,000 to the Diocese of Lake Charles to assist with recovery efforts.
Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, under the leadership of Sister Miriam Maclean, R.S.M., was on the ground running the same day of the hurricane as soon as it was deemed safe to do so.
“We are here, we are open and we are trying to meet the needs of the community,” Sister Miriam said. According to sister and the bishop, what the community needs right now are volunteers who can help rebuild after the devastation.
“We have on our website (lcdiocese.org),” Bishop Provost said, “ways of getting in touch with Catholic Charities or with the diocese.”
Editor’s Note: The Brooklyn Diocese is still accepting donations for the people suffering from Hurricane Laura and the West Coast Wildfires. Checks can be made out to The Compostela Fund and addressed to the following:
The USCCB Bishop’s Emergency Disaster Fund
310 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215