Before dawn February 13 a tornado touched down in several parts of New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, leaving a swath of destruction. When damage reports rolled in, Bishop Charles Jenkins and the clergy mobilized to help those affected by the storm.
"The church was able to shift from hurricane relief work to help in a neighborhood where people had been hurt and had post traumatic stress syndrome. I think we provided an important presence," Jenkins said. "I was pleased with how the diocese was able to respond to the disaster."
Jenkins' first stop was the apartment for college interns with the Office of Disaster Response's house gutting program. None of the eight interns was injured, but six windows were blown out of their house and two of their cars were smashed by felled telephone poles.
"All the young folks are OK but shaken pretty badly," Jenkins wrote in his blog.
Up the street at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on Carrollton Avenue, the Mobile Respite Care Unit (MRCU) was called in from its post in St. Bernard parish to provide relief supplies and pastoral care. The Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck (MLF) arrived to hand out meals. The MRCU set up across from the New Orleans Police Command Post where foot traffic was heavy and the need was great.
Across town in Pontchartrain Park, the St. Annaâs Mobile Medical Unit arrived to help with medical needs. According to Archdeacon Dennis McManis, there is much need and very few people to help. He plans to send all three mobile relief units to that location February 14.
Jenkins' blog on the diocese's website contains his experiences in the tornado's aftermath.
The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the tornado cut a two-block swath of destruction in Uptown New Orleans, ripping through the heavily populated Riverbend neighborhood, which had narrowly escaped Katrina's flooding.
The twister touched down initially in Westwego, skipped across the Mississippi River to the Riverbend area and spun down several blocks of South Carrollton Avenue before lifting skyward again, the newspaper reported. It struck again in the Gentilly neighborhood, killing an 85-year-old woman, lifting her FEMA trailer, hurling it through the air and slamming it down in splinters.
More information about the tornadoâs damage is available from the Times-Picayune here.