Dozens of churches damaged by Hurricane Ida: 'From desperate to recovering'

Hurricane Ida
Darrin Heisser (C) evacuates from his flooded home with his dog Sonny and the help of daughter Darion Heisser (L) and Troy Gerard (R) as they wade into a high water truck volunteering to evacuate people from flooded homes in LaPlace, Louisiana on August 30, 2021 in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. - Rescuers on Monday combed through the "catastrophic" damage Hurricane Ida did to Louisiana, a day after the fierce storm killed at least two people, stranded others in rising floodwaters and sheared the roofs off homes. |

Dozens of Louisiana churches have been destroyed or partially damaged by Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm that tore through the state last week. Meanwhile, churches in other states have also been damaged as the storm made its way north.

Ida’s winds, which surged at a record gust of up to 172 mph, damaged and even tore down entire buildings after it made landfall in the Bayou State last Sunday. Throughout the week, the weather system caused havoc in Mississippi and northeastern states. 

Louisiana Baptist Convention Director of Missions John Hebert told Baptist Press that more than 80 Southern Baptist churches in South Louisiana suffered structural damage in Hurricane Ida.

He released a list of at least 70 houses of worship that were damaged. 

“We have churches ranging from desperate to recovering, and the desperate ones need help,” Hebert was quoted as saying. “They’re below I-10. Insurance rates are out of this world. It’s going to be tough for them. … But most of our churches will be OK in the long run. It’s just right now, we have a crisis at hand and we need all the help we can get.” 

Hebert stated that about 30 churches in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes were hit hard. 

“The churches there, almost all of them are damaged, and damaged pretty severely,” Hebert said. “Roofs are gone. Pastors that live there, their homes are affected. Probably everybody down there has to have a roof. Unless it’s a real heavy duty steel roof, it’s gone.”

Only time will tell how long it will take to restore what has been damaged for the many pastors and congregations who lost their holy spaces. 

St. Charles United Methodist Church in Destrehan, which initially had three buildings, is now down to about two. 

“The Sunday school building — it’s a total loss,” Rev. Michelle Harris told United Methodist News. “The roof blew off. We’ll lose everything in that building, and the whole building will go.”

UMC Louisiana Conference Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey told United Methodist News she has a spreadsheet of many of the churches that have been impacted by Ida within Louisiana. 

“We do see extensive damage," Harvey said. "Quite a few churches, parsonages and homes owned by pastors. We want to get out to those [hard-hit] areas, but I don’t want to take fuel from responders.”

Heavy rains poured into Northeast states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the middle of the week and caused devastation. 

First Baptist Church on Howard Avenue in Mamaroneck, New York, which was damaged earlier this year by Hurricane Henri, was further devastated by Ida, according to PIX 11.

The extent of the damage started in the basement and continued to the main sanctuary. 

“It’s 10 times worse than the last hurricane,” Rev. James Taylor told Pix 11.

“It’s just very exhausting to have to go through this,” he added, noting that he continues to pray for relief.

In Brooklyn, the Faith Hope and Charity Church was damaged by Ida. Bishop Willie Billups told Pix 11 that he is unsure when the church will have service again. 

Extreme flooding from Ida has led to the deaths of at least 50 people in Northeast states. About 17 of those deaths were people in New York, while about 27 died in New Jersey with four missing as of Sunday. 

According to The Associated Press, at least 17 people died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  At least nine confirmed tornadoes touched down in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to ABC News.

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