‘We took the direct hit’: Louisiana diocese in ‘some crisis’ a week after Ida

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA

Damage from Hurricane Ida / Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 3, 2021 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Nearly a week after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux is still without electricity. Many parts of the diocese do not have running water, and hospitals that were not damaged in the storm are currently overcrowded.

One thing that is not lacking, however, is a reliance on God.

“We’ve taken a significant blow and we just need some help right now,” Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodeaux told CNA in an interview on Friday.

“And we trust that that help will come and that God will provide. So, you go forward and hope.”

“Hope and goodwill,” he said, is enough.

“It has to be enough,” he said. “And we journey forward with that hope and, and those expressions of goodwill.”

Fabre told CNA that he is “trusting in the Lord” and that he is “getting through it.”

“I have shed tears for the plight of the people whom I serve. I believe in the Lord, and right now I am trying to do all that I can pastorally to provide for the needs of the people here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux,” said Fabre.

Hurricane Ida made landfall last week as a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour. It was one of the strongest hurricanes in U.S. history at landfall, the Washington Post reported.

The Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux lies in the southeastern portion of Louisiana, and is one of the seven Catholic dioceses in the state.

In the southern part of the diocese, a majority of homes were left uninhabitable by the storm. Of the diocese’s 39 churches nearly all, 36, were damaged in the storm. Some of the churches suffered severe damage.

“We took the direct hit,” explained Fabre. “We got the worst winds and it has just been very, very, catastrophic. There’s lots of damage, particularly in the southern part of the diocese, where you get closer to the Gulf of Mexico, but the effect stretches across the two counties that are the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.”

Recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Ida will take quite a long time.

“I see small steps with regard to recovery, very small, small steps,” said Fabre.

“I’m not saying we’re not still in some crisis situation–we are–but you look for the small steps and you celebrate the small ways that God manifests His love for us, His presence with us,” he said.

Fabre said that Catholic Charities from other dioceses–particularly the Diocese of Lake Charles and the Diocese of Lafayette–have been assisting with the clean-up and recovery efforts, along with Catholic Charities USA and his own diocese’s Catholic Charities.

Right now, the priority is getting food and water to people, and meeting other basic needs. He said he was “very, very proud” of the work that has been done in spite of the circumstances.

“And I’m grateful for the support of so many,” he said. “I’ve had my moments, but we are doing what needs to be done to meet the needs of the people. And we are trusting in the Lord and relying on His mercy.”

Although the physical damage from the storm was extensive, Fabre said that he was “grateful” that unlike in other storms, there was not a widespread loss of life due to Hurricane Ida. Hurricane Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed over 1,500 people.

And despite the significant losses, Fabre explained to CNA that he has been thankful for the outpouring of support his diocese has received. Anyone who wishes to help, he said, can do so by contacting the Catholic Charities of Houma-Thibodeaux, as by praying for the diocese.

“We’re grateful for the good people who have come forward to help us,” he said.

“And hopefully there will be more people coming forward to help us because we will need the help. We’ll need their prayers and their financial assistance and assistance in helping us to rebuild this really, really beautiful part of the kingdom of God that is the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux.”


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