Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rural Church among Those Providing Aid after Louisiana Flood

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rural Church among Those Providing Aid after Louisiana Flood

Article excerpt

WALKER, La. * Outside the small town of Walker, La., a rural Baptist church has become an oasis for flood victims.

As waters rose amid torrential rain this month, National Guard rescue crews dropped people off at South Walker Baptist Church because it sits on a ridge of relatively high ground in Livingston Parish near Baton Rouge. Even as flooding has receded in recent days, the church like many other places across hard-hit south Louisiana has continued providing sustenance for the body and soul.

It sheltered 96 people in the days after the storm, and Pastor Mark Carroll said the sanctuary is still a dormitory for more than 20 who lost their homes, including a man who had been living in his car until Saturday. It is also housing volunteers who have come to help people rebuild.

With a congregation of about 100 and with help from the community, the church is offering hot meals, running a pantry stocked by donations from around the U.S. and conducting prayer services. Carroll said the church had been planning a revival in about a month, but he believes the storm recovery is making that happen now as people build relationships with each other through God.

"It's been this entire community," Carroll said by phone Sunday. "We couldn't have done anything without everyone, and I mean just about everyone, pitching in."

Charles Craft, a member of South Walker Baptist, said Sunday that he and his wife, Karen, lost their home about a mile from the church but they've been able to salvage some irreplaceable items such as photos of their four children and 16 grandchildren. He said everyone in their family is safe, and that's the most important thing.

"My story is no different than anybody's down the road," Craft said Sunday. "Everybody's life is out on the curb to be picked up by garbage."

The Baton Rouge area got thunderstorms with at least 2 to 3 inches of rain Sunday, said the National Weather Service, which posted a flash flood warning for part of the day.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday that people around the U.S. are just starting to pay attention to the extent of flooding that killed at least 13 people in Louisiana. …

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