By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West bureau
MANDEVILLE – St. Tammany Parish may be dodging the biggest bullet from the devastating rains brought to Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey.
However, the residents of the parish are already beginning to start relief efforts to help those individuals in Texas and Southwest Louisiana, remembering the way so many helped here after Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.
Hurricane Harvey has dumped incredible amounts of rain on Texas and Southwest Louisiana, with some totals of over 40-inches. Early reports said that over 30,000 homes had flooded and FEMA reported over 450,000 people may qualify for federal aid.
In St. Tammany Parish rains began on Sunday and continued all week long with some totals nearing 10 inches, however, flooding problems that were being faced in Texas and Southwest Louisiana were setting records from Harvey striking the coast, then meandering just off the coast in warm waters as it continued to pump rain into both states.
The Northshore Community Foundation, which raised and deployed more than $600,000 for flood relief and rebuilding last year, is heading a drive for Harvey victims.
“We don’t know what challenges this storm is ultimately going to bring, but we know that we can help and we can do it now,” NCF Director Susan Bonnett said. “Texas and Louisiana residents contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to our state’s flooded areas last year. We wouldn’t have made it without their help, so now it is time to return the favor.”
Proceeds from the current fundraising efforts will go directly to the people working on the front lines of the disaster, including churches, shelters, food banks and animal rescues.
To donate through the Northshore Community Foundation, go online to northshorefoundation.org.
St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office employees are members of a rescue group for disasters known as Team Cajun and started a collection effort earlier this week for supplies that will be taken to the flood victims.
They are asking for the following items: cleaning items, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, diapers, work gloves, heavy duty garbage bags, first aid items, toiletries, new bed sheets, new towels and soap.
Donations can be brought to the Justice Center in downtown Covington, to the Sheriff’s Office Administrative Office on Brownswitch Road in Slidell or to the Training Center in Pearl River. Drop off times are Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours, donations can be left on the porch of the Law Office of Spell and Spell (1225 N. Columbia Street, Covington).
In Slidell, New Beginnings Church Pastor Morris St. Angelo, president of the Slidell Ministers Association, announced a relief drive in conjunction with a Picayune, Ms. church to send aid to a city in Texas they are already connected with.
“Images of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction brings back many memories of Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago,” St. Angelo said in an e-mail release. “Helplessness and dismay are near the top of that list, along with the feeling of hope and encouragement brought by the many around America who reached out in meaningful ways to us all,” he added.
New Beginnings is partnering with Life Ministry in Picayune, the mother church to New Beginnings, since they are closely affiliated with Faith Family Church of Victoria, Tex.
“In Victoria they know the people, they know the need and they know where our assistance can most effectively be used,” St. Angelo explained.
Contributions can be made to Grace Radio in Slidell, a Christian station at 103.7 FM, by going to their website at graceradioofslidell.net. Checks can also be mailed to New Beginnings Church, 330 Robert Blvd., Slidell, La., 70458 and St. Angelo will personally ensure the money is sent to the Victoria, Tex. church.
“The outreaches we received after Hurricane Katrina brought spiritual and emotional refreshment, as well as needed provision,” St. Angelo said.
“I have heard it said today that what happened in Charlottesville, Va. recently was not the real heart of America,” he added. “The unified support and care for those in need is indeed the true heart of Christian America.”
First United Methodist Church in Slidell has begun a “Flood Buckets and Flood Relief” drive that is collecting cleaning supplies for post flooding work.
Five-gallon buckets are available at the church, located at 433 Erlanger Ave., that should be picked up and returned full of supplies. The buckets have resealable lids, although church organizers said they will accept five-gallon buckets from other products that have been washed and cleaned before filling.
Do not use buckets that have stored chemicals, paint or pool cleaner.
The buckets should include liquid laundry detergent, liquid household cleaner, dish soap, air freshener, insect repellent, scouring pads, clothes lines with pins, heavy duty trash bags, dishwashing gloves and work gloves.
Keller Williams Realty Professionals is collecting supplies at their local offices as part of 800 offices across the country joining the effort. Local items will be taken to a regional distribution center designated by local organizations.
Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan issued an online announcement about the city by mid-week, noting there were not any major problems in Slidell with all the pumps working.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Texas and Louisiana who have been affected by Harvey,” he said. “Here in Slidell, I want to assure the citizens that our pump stations are working at 100 percent and are being maintained around the clock. The retention ponds throughout the city have also been pumped down.”
On a national level, The Salvation Army is accepting donations online at give.salvationarmyusa.org, Samaritan’s Purse is accepting donations online at samaritanspurse.org, or with the Red Cross online at redcross.org.