On Aug. 29, members and their neighbors living in New Orleans and surrounding Gulf Coast communities marked the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's arrival in a most undesirable fashion.
Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm, reached the Louisiana coastline — bringing with it sustained 75 mph winds and a perilous storm surge. In preparation for Isaac, local priesthood leaders began working with welfare officials at Church headquarters days before the storm hit landfall.
"One of the good things with this sort of disaster is that you see it coming," said the Church's emergency response director, Lynn Samsel.
Prior to the storm, local bishops and quorum leaders were in contact with their members in projected impact areas to make necessary preparations and to identify evacuation options and shelter locations. Stake presidents and Area Seventies were issued satellite phones that have made it possible to stay in contact with welfare officials — and one another — during and after the hurricane.
Hurricane Isaac is being called a "slow-moving system" that was expected to weaken to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression within 24 hours of its arrival. Flooding was of greatest concern, with projected rain amounts ranging from 4 to 18 inches along Isaac's inland path.
Flooding occurred in New Orleans and other towns across Louisiana shortly after the hurricane reached land. A storm surge also overtopped an 8-foot levee in the Plaquemines Parish. Electrical power was also lost across much of New Orleans.
Church officials outlined an initial plan of response action and were working with government and other relief agencies. The Church was prepared to provide food, water, blankets, hygiene supplies, tarps, cleaning supplies and volunteersas needed.