The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is deploying alongside Samaritan’s Purse to Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura made landfall in the pre-dawn hours Thursday with sustained winds of 150 mph.
“With the scope of this storm, we are thankful that the overall damage was not worse than what the initial reports are showing,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.
“We know that even beyond the physical damage, the emotional toll that a storm like this takes is significant, and our crisis-trained chaplains will be there to share the peace and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
The Category 4 hurricane pummeled the town of Cameron overnight, about 45 miles south of Lake Charles along the southwest Louisiana coast. The storm had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph and gusts of 133 mph upon making landfall around 7 a.m. in the Lake Charles area.
An RRT Mobile Ministry Center traveled from the Southwest Ministry Center in Coppell, Texas, and arrived at First Baptist Church in Lake Charles Thursday evening.
Chaplain Coordinator Sharon Folsom will deploy additional chaplains following the initial assessment of the needs in the area.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reported the first fatality from the hurricane was a 14-year-old girl who was killed when a tree fell on her home.
A 20-foot storm surge off the Gulf of Mexico had been predicted, however, preliminary reports estimate the surge at 11 feet. Daybreak revealed that throughout downtown Lake Charles, windows in high-rise buildings were repeatedly blown out.
Significant tree damage is reported throughout the region. And more than 600,000 customers remain without power in Louisiana and Texas.
Strong winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, downed trees and power outages are expected as the storm continues its northward path across Louisiana where rainfall totals of five to 15 inches are predicted for the central and western part of the state.
Parts of Arkansas could receive up to 10 inches of rain as the storm continues its path along the mid-Mississippi valleys into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and central Appalachians through the weekend.
Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert