Louisiana televangelist Jesse Duplantis hit back at critics who charged that he and his ministry weren’t doing enough to help his storm-ravaged community of St. Charles Parish, where Hurricane Ida left most residents without power.
Duplantis' Covenant Church is located in Destrehan, St. Charles Parish, where “nearly every home and structure” was touched by Ida’s heavy winds and rain, and officials believe power might not be restored in the area until the end of September, Fox 8 reported.
“We were really devastated by this storm,” Parish President Matthew Jewell told the network while comparing the damage to that of Hurricane Katrina. “It’s going to be a long restoration process.”
St. Charles Parish was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ida. Duplantis, who also leads Jesse Duplantis Ministries, and his wife, Cathy, were forced to defend themselves in a video message on Facebook Tuesday, after people accused his church of doing nothing to help his community as they suffer through the aftermath of the hurricane.
“We’re helping people literally all over everywhere,” Duplantis insisted. “The problem is when you come and look at our ministry you can’t see any of that because we had oak trees down, breaking this and we had to get all that stuff out. Thank God for people that came and helped us do all of those things.
“You’re hearing all kinds of rumors that we’re not doing this, we’re not doing [that], that’s all a bunch of malarkey. I could use another word, but you understand what I’m talking about,” he continued before revealing that his ministry had already donated some $100,000 worth of generators and he had plans to do even more.
“I made up my mind that we’re going to be a blessing and are a blessing. … We’ve already given away $100,000 worth of generators … so God has been so good. Not trying to brag about that,” he said. “We want to do more, and we are going to do more. I mean, I’ve never seen so many trees, Cathy.”
The 72-year-old televangelist explained that 160 mph gusts of wind from Hurricane Ida did some damage to the roof of his home which he is getting fixed. He also said he's been giving spiritual and physical food to the community that many of his critics have omitted to highlight.
“Not only have we been giving out spiritual food but we’ve been giving out physical food, all those kinds of things. But you know, people don’t want to hear that because you gotta touch the heart of an individual,” Duplantis said.
He encouraged people to donate to his ministry so he could help people get into homes. He noted that during Hurricane Katrina, he was able to donate some $3 million in donations to assist people in need.
Brandi Abate, who said she lives in St. Rose, not far from Duplantis' home, challenged his claims later that day in an extended post on Facebook.
“Jesse. I am a ‘child of God’ I am also in your ‘community.’ I’ve passed your church and home several times and have seen absolutely no activity. No prayer services on the front lawn. No ice, water, foo, or for Heaven’s sake these generators you speak of. I’m not condemning your words but I am questioning your actions,” she said, before adding that other churches in the area with fewer resources have been busy helping their neighbors.
“Much smaller churches are in the trenches with us while you sit in that tax free monstrosity. Outside of your podcasts and Facebook staged videos I’ve not seen nor heard from you or your church staff. I’ve not been lended(sic) a hand or even consolation that things will be ok. Ya know who did? The pastor I just met at St Rose Community Church. Ya know who else did? Our Sheriff’s office. Mt. Zion church. Our council people. Our parish president. Our senator!!! But you? No sir. Not a word,” she continued.
Louisiana’s death toll from Hurricane Ida rose to 26 on Wednesday, just days after the reported number of deaths was believed to be 13.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the causes of the additional deaths was due to drowning, lack of oxygen, heat exhaustion, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other storm-related events.