A Louisiana church – which has grown stronger in a disaster for more than 15 years – has worked tirelessly to distribute relief supplies and services to families in need after Hurricane Ida ravaged the state.
For the past five weeks, Samuel Mamou has led the efforts of the New Wine Christian Fellowship Church to distribute water, non-perishable foods, hygiene kits and cleaning supplies to hundreds of residents every day.
It became a full-time job for Mamou — a father of five whose house was severely damaged by Ida – and all the volunteers who came together to help the community of Laplace.
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“Our community was largely devastated, looked like a war zone,” Senior Pastor Neil Bernard told Fox News. “But we are committed to helping our community rebuild.”
The night Ida struck, the church immediately sprang into action, using its 18,000 square foot church to provide shelter for those whose homes were flooded.
They have since worked with various organizations to collect and distribute the necessary supplies. This is where Mamou comes in, says Bernard.
After the storm, Mamou told Fox News her phone was exploding with calls from “different organizations that wanted to help… to help us with relief.”
The church has been known to serve the parish community of St. John the Baptist in times of disaster since Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005. They are helping what Bernard calls the Four Phases of Disaster Recovery: Rescue , relief, recovery and reconstruction.
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As a result, Bernard says the church has established relationships with groups like Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing, and others who specialize in helping communities with disasters.
After Ida, organizations sent trucks of disaster relief supplies and even building materials that were brought to the church’s 60,000 square foot warehouse.
“The vast majority of the relief came from faith-based organizations across the country who saw the plight of what happened in Louisiana and stood up and responded by saying, ‘Look, what can we do? “” said Bernard.
After receiving supplies, Mamou immediately organized several distribution events at the church each day. Hundreds of cars will show up and stock up on supplies and at one point they were even given hot meals.
Daily, Mamou said they see at least 800 cars “if not more than that”.
However, their efforts are far from over.
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Now, as the community continues to return home, its goal is to help residents empty and rebuild their homes, Bernard said.
To help with the recovery and rebuilding phase, the church collected and distributed “gloves, safety glasses, shovels, rakes, brooms and items to help people clean their homes.”
Bernard says the church has also coordinated with other agencies to bring in people who know how to rebuild properly. The senior pastor knows that the rebuilding phase is the “longest and most difficult part of any disaster”, but they do not shy away from the challenge.
Over the next few weeks, the church sent groups from across the country to help with the rebuilding effort.
“When there is a disaster or a major effect on our community, our church normally answers the call,” said Mamou.