damaged roof

Workers replace the roof of St. Mary of the Angels Church.

Aug. 29 marked one year since Hurricane Ida made landfall in the city of New Orleans. It is the same month and day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans in 2005.

Hurricane Katrina’s destruction was mostly flooding large parts of the city, while Hurricane Ida’s destruction was widespread, with wind and rain damaging the roofs of homes and businesses in New Orleans and neighboring towns and 1,400 churches and schools in the archdiocese. Ida knocked out a major New Orleans city power grid that caused eight to 10 days of lost power, shutting down drug stores and groceries, gas stations, internet and phones.

man on roof

A worker fixing roof damage from Hurricane Ida.

We friars at St. Mary of the Angels (SMA) Friary chose to remain during the storm primarily to be of service to our neighbors by opening our school and parking lot for shelter and distribution of emergency goods, such as water, food, ice, blue tarps, cleaning supplies and baby items. The friars and parishioners are grateful for the support received during these difficult times. The New Orleans City Council provided the emergency goods distributed in our parking lot. Our neighbor, Ron, who has a small generator, allowed us to charge our cell phones. My niece, Emily, who lived in Long Beach, Miss., offered the use of her refrigerator so that Br. Juniper’s diabetic medicine could be stored and kept cold.

Our Franciscan family responded with prayers and generous donations. We are grateful for the donations from the Franciscan Friars, TOR, Loretto, Pa.; the Franciscan Friars, OFM, Development Office, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Secular Franciscan Fraternity, OFS, Houston, Texas.

Our twinning parishes also responded with prayers and generous donations. We are grateful for the support from Guardian Angels Church, Cincinnati; St. Raphael Church, Manchester, N.H; Sacred Heart Church, Pinellas Park, Fla; and Immaculate Heart of Mary Empowerment Fund, Cincinnati.

Some donations were used to help the immediate needs of our parishioners and neighbors. During this year, FEMA and our archdiocesan insurance companies have been negotiating settlements to cover the cost of damages at the churches and school buildings. SMA and other churches were allowed to make small, necessary repairs, but any major work would negatively affect FEMA assistance. After waiting one year, in this month of August, our insurance company sent roofers to replace our church roof, thanks be to God. Still, SMA does not know what portion our church will have to pay and when other repairs will be made to our friary and school.

Over the past year, the friars and SMA members decided that from our Hurricane Ida experience comes the need to provide for emergencies in the future. Hurricanes are part of life in New Orleans, and it is not if, but when, they will arrive again. With the generous donations we have received, SMA will invest in an emergency generator for our church and friary and to assist our neighbors during another power outage. Installation will take time due to worker and supply shortages.

I hope this is helpful in updating our hurricane recovery efforts. SMA friars and parishioners are very grateful for all the prayers, words of encouragement and financial support. May the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor spare us from loss of life and property during this hurricane season. God’s blessings on all.