Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Floodwaters Engulf Baton Rouge Diocese

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Floodwaters Engulf Baton Rouge Diocese

Article excerpt

BATON ROUGE, LA -- Water lapped at the heels of Fr. Michael Galea, the steady rain an arduous reminder of Mother Nature's unfinished business.

Galea, pastor at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, estimated that as many as 90 percent of his parishioners were impacted during the recent historic flooding that touched nearly every corner of the Baton Rouge diocese.

"It's going to change the whole dynamic of Holy Rosary as a parish as we know it," Galea told The Catholic Commentator, the diocesan newspaper. "It's not going to be the same. And we are going to lose quite a bit of people if they choose to move away."

Some areas saw 20 inches of rain in as many hours. In Central, it is estimated 27,000 out of 28,000 people were impacted, leaving some to speculate if the suburban community will be able to recover.

In Livingston Parish, a civil jurisdiction, at least 75 percent of residents suffered some type of water damage, with most of the destruction major. Residents in the civil jurisdictions of East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Tangipahoa parishes also were forced to dig out.

Much of Zachary was damaged. In the aftermath, many residential streets appeared to be mere passes surrounded by mountains of debris.

Schools were closed, many for weeks, and businesses were struggling to reopen. Curfews were enacted in civil parishes throughout to lessen the threat of looting in the impacted areas.

Some estimates are as high as 100,000 homes damaged, with thousands fleeing to evacuation shelters. …

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