Louisiana Flood Strips Evangelical Political Leader of Everything; Family Evacuated in Canoe, Living in Motorhome
As thousands of homes have been impacted by the torrential rainfall this weekend in Louisiana and Mississippi, leading social conservative activist Tony Perkins has shared his own story of how he and his family were forced to evacuate their home with over 10 feet of water sitting in their way.
As the Red Cross is calling the flooding in Louisiana the "worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy," Perkins, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council and a resident of the Bayou State, spoke as a guest on his own Washington Watch radio program Tuesday and explained how much devastation has been caused by the flooding.
Considering that over 40,000 homes have been impacted and over 20,000 people have been evacuated, Perkins, who was on vacation for a couple weeks and was planning to soon return to work in Washington, explained that the disaster of "near biblical proportions" has kept him from returning.
"[I have seen] nothing like this and I have been involved in disaster relief, especially here in Louisiana, working and coordinating relief efforts through several hurricanes," Perkins stressed. "This is unlike anything we have seen before."
"In fact, we had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe," Perkins added. "We had about 10 feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, a few of our cars flooded."
Perkins, who has five children, detailed how his large family scrambled to gather up spare clothes and squeezed into the watercraft and paddle away to safety.
"So there was seven of us in kind of an oversized canoe … and we are paddling out and finally we got a tow from another little boat coming by that had a motor," Perkins explained.
As previously reported by The Christian Post, a number of local churches in Louisiana are serving as Red Cross shelters to help the thousands of people displaced from their homes.
The Perkins family was towed to a nearby church that was being used as a shelter. But the church, however, was not prepared to accept the Perkins family and had to turn them away.
"But in God's provision, a former [member of my church] who had happened to have moved and lived across the street from that church and happened to be there took us to their home and we spent the night," Perkins said. "We were able to get back to our property. Fortunately, our motorhome only had water underneath and was dry inside. So, we are now just camping all the time. We are going to be on a six-month camping spree as we try to put the pieces back together."
About 80 percent of Perkins' own congregation at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, where he now serves as interim pastor, has been impacted by the disaster, he said.
"There is hardly a place you could turn where someone has not been affected by this," Perkins asserted. "I mean, I am talking about people who have lost absolutely everything, the majority of which didn't have flood insurance because they just didn't need it because this has never happened before."
"There is not a bigger investment that people make than their homes. That is their investment," Perkins continued, empathizing with those who can't afford to fix such devastating damage to their homes. "When you come to the end of your work life and retiring and that investment is washed away — that is everything."
Perkins posted a message on his church's Facebook page reminding the church community of the power of prayer in moments like these.
"I thought of Job and his response to the overwhelming loss that he faced when Satan sought to test his devotion to God. Job said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord,'" Perkins wrote.
"And in the last chapter (Job 42:10) we read 'And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before,'" Perkins continued.
Perkins further stressed that although the flooding has caused much heartache and despair, it presents a real opportunity for the Church and Christians to comfort and help those vulnerable people in their time of need.
"We have people who are very, very discouraged," Perkins said. "We just need to pray that those who can minister can be fully occupied in ministering to the hurting and bringing hope to people and seeing the people through this. This is a great opportunity for the Church to minister and that is who is on the ground working."
The evangelical humanitarian group Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, will be setting up a relief team at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church to help with recovery efforts, Perkins added.
In order to salvage the damaged homes, Perkins explained that many of the homes in the area, including his own, will have to have the walls torn out and gutted in order to prevent water from further damaging the structure of the homes.
He added that the Southern Baptists Convention and Convoy of Hope have also been on the ground helping aid those in need.
Even for those who can't physically travel to Louisiana to help those affected by the flooding, there is still an opportunity for them to give. Samaritan's Purse has a donation fund set up to aid their U.S. disaster relief efforts. The Convoy for Hope also has a donation page.
"We are going to look for what God is going to do in this," Perkins said. "We have already seen in it an understanding of what is most important and how sometimes we get too occupied with the other things in life and you are brought back down the very essentials of what life is and what gives life its purpose and meaning."