Katrina Recovery Ministry
At Central St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans and a partnership with the churches of Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries
On August 29 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, bringing about one of the worst natural disasters our country has known. Soon 80% of the city was under water. Thousands of residents died or were unaccounted for, and over 240,000 homes were destroyed or left uninhabitable. Schools, hospitals and stores were closed; no electricity or drinkable water was available in much of the city. Within days a majority of city residents were evacuated.
Today, over 18 months later, New Orleans is still struggling. Schools, hospitals and stores are open but in lesser numbers than before Katrina and there is still more to do than there are people or funds to do it. There are still large areas of the city that have yet to begin rebuilding. Residents are slowly returning to the city but there is a serious lack of affordable housing so many are still living in cities and towns around the country unable to return “home”. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine the effect this has had on our churches—their membership, their income, and even their ability to survive.
While many members of St. Matthew have been displaced and church income has been reduced by half, St. Matthew’s building escaped serious damage—providing many opportunities for outreach to the community. Upon learning that the building of a sister congregation had been flooded, CE buildingCentral UCC was invited to worship and make St. Matthew their home. Another opportunity for outreach ministry involves the large educational building (right). A Head Start program, previously housed at St. Matthew, did not return after the Katrina evacuation, leaving the facility mostly empty. Part of this space has been converted into two dorm rooms with bunks to house work groups that come to New Orleans to help in the long recovery and rebuilding process.
Everyone’s help is needed to help rebuild the city of New Orleans. If you would like to help—through volunteering, financial support, or in other ways—please contact Rev. Alan Coe at 504-258-7306. All contributions by individuals are tax deductible and UCC congregations making contributions will be given OCWM Special Support credit. Please remember us in your prayers!