WASHINGTON — Hurricane Delta deluged much of Louisiana with rain — as much as 15 inches reported in some areas — with damage tallies and estimates yet to be completed in the days following the storm’s Oct. 9 landfall.
In Lake Charles, one of the hardest-hit areas, churches and schools that had been damaged by Hurricane Laura in late August took another beating. More than half of the diocese’s 39 churches had tarps on their roofs after Laura, according to Father Ruben Buller, vicar general, and most of those tarps blew off during Delta, soaking those churches anew.
Father Buller told Catholic News Service that he estimated recovery efforts for those churches hit by both Laura and Delta have been set back by three weeks. In the meantime, the diocese’s six Catholic schools were to stay closed the week of Oct. 12 to allow for extensive inspections for damage.
In a way, though, “we were very blessed,” said Father Buller, who also serves as director of recovery for the diocese, as “many of our parishes that did not receive damage the first time did not sustain damage” from Delta.
The neighboring Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, announced the temporary closures of 23 schools, some just for Oct. 12, while others would be closed Oct. 12-13. The diocesan chancery also was closed Oct. 12.
The diocese set up an Amazon wish list page with items people were in immediate need of, including tarps, disinfectant, hammers, jigsaw blades, ladders, extension cords and other hardware, at
https://amzn.to/3nOOJTl. Catholic Charities USA is accepting donations to help the areas damaged by the hurricane,
“We beseech the good Lord for the safety of all families and their homes threatened by this hurricane,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops, in a Nov. 9 statement. “We pray especially for all the first responders who courageously risk their own lives to assist those in need.”
Hurricane Delta struck the resort city of Cancun, Mexico, Oct. 7 as a Category 2 storm. The storm toppled trees and power poles and wrecked the facades of some buildings, but didn’t do major damage, according to state and local officials. No serious injuries or loss of life were reported.
Caritas Quintana Roo responded to the hurricane by providing food to families in shanties built on the outskirts of the city, which were built by people working in informal jobs, such as vending, and had arrived from impoverished parts of southeastern Mexico in search of employment.
Hurricane Delta added to the difficulties faced by Cancun, founded 50 years ago as a centrally planned tourist destination, only to see its main industry collapse due to the coronavirus outbreak. Caritas, Gutierrez said, had been assisting 14,000 households with care packages of food prior to the pandemic, but saw that number nearly double over the past seven months.
He added Caritas was still attending to families flooded out in early October by Tropical Storm Gamma, which claimed six lives and dumped heavy rains on the Yucatan Peninsula, along with the southeastern states of Tabasco and Chiapas.