Our Alumni Serve Their Communities in the Wake of Hurricane Ida

Published Date: September 2, 2021

Asbury Theological Seminary has many alumni in the areas that have been devastated by recent Hurricane Ida. We are following the developing stories of some of them who are looking for and finding hope amid the sobering reality of the long road of recovery ahead of them.

Alumnus Ted Fine and his wife Valerie serve in Houma, Louisiana and experienced the eye of the storm. Both their parsonage and their church building are safe, but their community was not as fortunate. “I survived and finally have ‘some’ cell and internet” Ted stated. “I have no damage and my church is good too. Wish I could say the same about a whole lot of other folks. Time for the church to kick into gear.”

This is not the first time Ted has led efforts to help his community heal after a disaster. The areas he has served since graduating with his MDiv in 2013 have had more than their share of hurricane damage and flooding in recent years. Necessity has taught him how to quickly organize relief efforts to care for the most vulnerable in situations like these. He knows his community needs his immediate respsonse, as the most vulnerable of his neighbors cannot wait for FEMA money to come. They need food, medicine, and assistance cleaning up now, as the people on the margins of any community have few resources to fall back on during times like this.

Not all of our alumni fared quite as well as Ted. Alumni Jason and Michelle Harris serve the LaPlace and Destrehan communities, respectively. The parsonage in Destrehan took damage as well as the church. Michelle reports, “One building is a complete loss. Our other two buildings (Fellowship Hall/Food Pantry/Kitchen) had roof leaks and the mess seems manageable. We are hoping to get it blue roofed ASAP and be able to use that space to house people who can help our community and get [vital ministries] back up and running.” As of the time this article was written, due to severe flooding, they still had been unable to get close enough to assess the damage to Jason’s church in LaPlace. The flooding in that area is reported to be from 3ft to rooftop level in some places.

Yet, in the midst of all this, hope remains because the church is there, serving after the pattern of Christ. To the “ordinary saints” who have pitched in and are preparing to come help with the relief efforts, the Michelle says: “I will rest easy tonight knowing we are not alone – and I am thankful to tears for seeing, hearing, and experiencing God through each one of you.” The need is great in southern Louisiana, but there is hope for cleanup and repair, even as neighbors are learning to lean on one another through the crisis.

If you’re interested in helping, there are many ways to do so. On a broad scale, donating to UMCOR is always a good idea, and there is already a specific fund you can select for disaster relief in the United States. You can access that specific donation portal here. The great thing about UMCOR is that they are very fast to respond, all overhead costs are already paid by the United Methodist Church, so all donations go directly toward relief, and they stay long after the initial relief effort to help the community rebuild.

If you have an established work team ministry that is trained and ready to help, and you would like to connect with one of our alumni organizing community relief efforts, shoot us an email at alumni@asburyseminary.edu. We can put you in touch with our folks on the ground to determine if they have the ability to receive you.


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