On an August night in Louisiana in 2020, Hurricane Laura swept through Lake Charles, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to the town of 78,000.
Wind gusts of more than 150 miles-per-hour pulled roofs from houses while heavy flooding swamped them. Power lines were strewn throughout roads, and local businesses were missing doors, roofs and walls. Sixty-nine water outages impacted more than 180,000 residents. Another 152 water systems were placed on a boil water advisory.
“Nature has absolutely taken a toll on this community,” said Rev. Jerry Snider, lead pastor of Lake Charles’ Christian World ministry.
Residents came together to help rebuild their town. They also welcomed support from the National Guard and volunteer organizations like Operation Blessing, a non-profit organization that helps out in humanitarian crises around the world. Operation Blessing organized donations and helped distribute crucial supplies to Lake Charles residents, including 2,200 cases of water donated by Keurig Dr Pepper.
One Lake Charles resident, Trudy, lost her home after Hurricane Laura. With the help of Operation Blessing volunteers, Trudy was able to recover items and prepare for rebuilding. “It just feels like God giving you a hug,” she said of Operation Blessing’s support.
More than a year later, rebuilding efforts remain underway. With a long road to recovery ahead, the residents of Lake Charles remain determined.
“Like we always say in southwest Louisiana, we’re strong. We bounce back,” Keith Bell, assistant pastor for United Christian Fellowship, said.