On Sunday, August 28th 2005, the First Baptist Church Gonzales, La. gathered for worship with a foreboding outlook on the next 24 hours. As we closed the worship service, I addressed the congregation by stating the obvious, namely that the radar and forecast were troubling, and that we should make final decisions regarding the storm. My last comment was one leading to a closing prayer for God’s protection and provision, I shared with our church that Katrina promises to be a future pseudonym for disaster, and I am confident that it will change south Louisiana in a very profound way. I challenged our people that with such destruction coming our way, we could count on unprecedented opportunities for ministry.
For five hours on Monday, August 29, Hurricane Katrina battered the major Gulf Coast cities, and when all was said and done there were 1833 deaths and $108 billion dollars in damages. Douglas Brinkley in his comprehensive and impressive chronicle, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, writes, “The storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half million homes, creating the largest domestic refugee crisis since the Civil War. Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water, as debris and sewage coursed through the streets, and whole towns in southeastern Louisiana ceased to exist.”
Gonzales, being some 60 miles west of New Orleans along the route of Interstate 10, would escape the higher winds and the devastating flooding of our friends in New Orleans. By being one of the first major exits on I-10 west out of New Orleans, Gonzales became a city of refugee for many fleeing Katrina. (more…)