Sept. 9, 2008
First, let me thank all of you who have been praying for my family and for all the families of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. I also want to thank the churches from around the country that have responded once again by sending much-needed supplies and help. Secondly, let me apologize for not keeping you updated on what has transpired over the last week in Louisiana.
This storm, while not as spectacular as Katrina, impacted more Louisianans and has done extensive damage to homes and businesses in multiple parishes. The Baton Rouge area was one of the hardest hit. Gustav caused much greater damage to Louisiana's power infrastructure than Katrina did -- over two-thirds of Louisiana was without power in the hours after Gustav. Nearly one quarter of the population remains without power, and it could be more than two weeks before power is restored to the entire state.
Being without power doesn't sound like a big issue, but when it is so widespread it quickly creates a crisis. No electricity not only means lack of refrigeration of food, but also lack of fuel for vehicles. For those few gas stations that were able to acquire generators and pump fuel, the lines in some cases were nearly a mile long. Without power, sewage and water facilities were incapacitated, creating problems for drinking water is some parishes.
This crisis once again gave the Church the opportunity to respond to the real and pressing needs of people, an opportunity they immediately seized. I spent this past week first of all helping PRC Compassion pastors and Gene Mills, the executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, organize and coordinate the church response. A few days into the crisis, Governor Bobby Jindal asked me to assist the Commissioner of Administration, Angela Davis, in getting food to the hardest hit areas of the state.
Governor Jindal is a friend of mine with whom I worked closely during my time in the legislature when he was the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Having the opportunity to work alongside him and his staff in the last several days from sun-up to past sundown, I am greatly encouraged and impressed with his leadership and the dedication of his staff to getting essential relief to the citizens of the state and restoring critical infrastructure.
The rebuilding process is just beginning as officials keep one eye on the Gulf for more potential hurricanes this summer. Please continue to pray for the governor and his dedicated staff. As my schedule allows, I hope to continue to assist when and where needed. For now I am back in the saddle at FRC speaking to a gathering of pastors in New Hampshire and heading to New York to appear on the Lou Dobbs television show. It is only appropriate for me to thank my extremely capable staff, headed by Chuck Donovan, for holding down the fort in my absence.