Today was a very emotional and difficult day for us. We began the day back at Baton Rouge PD. James Vaca had just arrived last night to help us to assess the situation and to help with some of the repairs at the police station. We drove through the area to show James some of the damage and passed through block after block of flood debris piled outside of peoples houses. Each pile represented a family that had probably lost everything. All their belongings, their clothing, their appliances. We saw stoves, refrigerators all kinds of things thrown into a heap by the street waiting for a truck to come by and pick it up. When we arrived at the station we met a man named Lee. He too had seen his house flooded by the storm. He was one of the lucky ones because he had flood insurance. Most people in this city are on fixed incomes and simply could not afford the flood insurance or their home was in an area that had never flooded so it was not required. He said the people of Denham Springs are really suffering. People have lost everything and are getting little help from the government. They are becoming angry and soon that anger will turn to hopelessness. Hopelessness will lead to increased incidence of violence, suicide, drugs and alcohol addiction. We were able to pray for him, his neighbors and fellow citizens.
After praying for Lee we went inside the police department. Tony and James went right to work, hanging dry wall in a couple of the offices. James told me that many of the officers just wanted to talk and they would stop work so that they could share their story. I went off to meet with the Baton Rouge Chaplain, Lt. Boyce. Lt. Boyce took me to meet the widow of one of the officers that was killed by a sniper a little less than two months ago. It was quite emotional on the one hand to hear of the way her young children were trying to cope with the loss of their father. One of them a three year old was sitting on the couch watching TV last night. They asked her what she was doing and she replied, “watching TV with daddy.” The other is beginning to deal with anger, all of which is absolutely normal. The wife told us that the only way that she can get through is her faith in God. She has to pray and read the word just to get by another day. She seemed like such a woman of strength but she was quick to point out that this was Jesus’ strength, not hers. As we rose to leave Chaplain Boyce asked her if I could pray for her. As we laid hands on her and began to pray tears began to stream down her face. Her loss and the loss of her children was unimaginable.
From there we went to a Jr. High School in Densham Springs where we delivered 50 school backpacks that were donated by Promise Child. The principal, Bryan Wax was so appreciative of them. Since it was a public school I felt obligated to tell him that there was a bible in each bag. I asked him if he thought it needed to be removed and he said, “no, leave it. They need that.”
I went with the DSPD School Resource officer, Officer Scoby. He told me that he tool had lost everything in the flood. His entire house flooded. As we drove he recounted the hours leading up to them having to evacuate their home. The last few minutes were the most harrowing as the water rose quickly from down the street to in front of their home and up their driveway. He said what made this disaster different is that all his family had been affected by it. They had all lost their homes, cars and personal belongings. It was overwhelming.
Later that afternoon, Tony and I had an opportunity to cook dinner for the department. This was for the shift that was just coming on duty. We were told that only a couple of restaurants survived the flood so they were so appreciative of the food. Some even tried Tony’s sushi for the first time. Everyone from the Chief of Police on down came in to get their plate and thanked us profusely for the meal. It was such a joy and labor of love to be able to do that for them.
Please continue to pray for the people here as they try to make sense of their lives. Pray that we would be able to communicate the Gospel. Pray about joining one of our teams to come out and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to the people here and in Baton Rouge. We go home tomorrow. Time has flown by
Gary I. Kusunoki
Chief Executive Officer
Anchored International Relief
31612 El Camino Real
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675