- (Photo: REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger)
An aid worker with the United Methodist Committee on Relief believes that Hurricane Isaac is nowhere near comparable to Hurricane Katrina. The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, assistant general secretary for U.S. Disaster Response for UMCOR, told The Christian Post that the present storm has impacted the region differently.
"In my mind this is never even close to Katrina-like. The wind is not there; this is a rain event. We're going to have tremendous amounts of rain," said Hazelwood.
"After Katrina there were miles and miles and miles and miles of power lines down that had to be restored ... [With Isaac], that didn't happen."
"It's nowhere close to same, plus you had the levee failure in New Orleans with Katrina which was the huge headline ... the reinforcements and the work they have done since then the city of New Orleans is fine."
Hazelwood of UMCOR told CP that his organization was in the process of assessing the damage from the current storm.
"We are coordinating with our churches in Mississippi and Louisiana. And we have disaster response teams that are in right now," said Hazelwood.
"They are just assessing the situation because ... it's still raining down there," added Hazelwood, who noted that the issues about the failing dam that could lead "to a lot more residences being flooded."
"The flooding situation is the key thing we are monitoring at this point."
In addition to UMCOR, other religious organizations are sending personnel and supplies to the Gulf Coast region.
Operation Blessing International, which was founded by Pat Robertson, deployed a disaster relief team to the greater New Orleans area on Thursday.
"OBI team members will assess damage in Plaquemines Parish, the hardest hit area. They have also been asked by the State EOC to serve hot meals in St. Bernard Parish, so they will be setting up their mobile kitchen, which is capable of serving 2,000 hot meals per day," said the organization in a statement.
"OBI, which specializes in mass volunteer management, will be calling for volunteers shortly to take part in relief efforts including debris removal, roof repair, and more. OBI will also begin accepting work requests (for free) from local homeowners whose houses were damaged."
The Salvation Army is in the "early stages" of a response to Isaac, with 60 personnel, 24 feeding units, and a large field kitchen stationed in the area.
"In Gulfport, The Salvation Army deployed a mobile kitchen to a shelter at West Harrison High School to provide food to survivors there. These units have a combined feeding capacity of more than 31,000 meals per day," The Salvation Army reported.
"For the homeless filling shelters and other community members in need of support, The Salvation Army has personnel onsite, trained to provide spiritual and emotional care on the front lines during and after the storm."
Mark Jones, divisional communications director for The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, told The Christian Post that Isaac and Katrina are similar on "an emotional" level.
"Isaac and Katrina, from an emotional standpoint, had similar impacts on the minds and hearts of people. In some cases, Isaac even more so due to the memories it brought back about Katrina," said Jones.
"From a response standpoint for The Salvation Army, we learned several lessons from Katrina. We know more about preparation, staging supplies, and infrastructure. Overall, with Isaac, there was a better sense of our ability to prepare to respond and mobilize more quickly from areas near the impacted areas."