Thanks to the generous response of our parishioners and the $5,000 grant from the Parish Giving Fund, we were able to send over $12,000 to St. Jean Vianney parish in Baton Rouge to assist with their rebuilding efforts following the devastating flooding in August. Father Tom Ranzino sent the update below on September 9, 2016. For more information about St. Jean Vianney Parish please visit their website at www.stjeanvianney.org.
Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues
Thank you to all of you who have been so generous and kind in your reaching out to me and to the parish during these recent days.
Since my last update to you I’m happy to report some significant milestones have been made in our recovery.
Regarding the re-construction of buildings on campus, the Elementary School re-occupied the Parish Hall for the first time on Wednesday of this week. Even though there is construction going on to replace the bathrooms in the Hall and the serving line equipment in the kitchen, which were all damaged in the flooding, we received a waiver from the Health Department to use the facility for Elementary Lunch service. While we are not cooking or providing cooked meals in the Hall at the time, we are doing bag lunches from home. Sounds like a small thing, but when we reoccupied the Hall the kids all gave a standing ovation to get back inside. Lunch on a cart in the classroom was not universally loved, so its good to move out of that phase. Small things matter!
A really big milestone is that the Parish Pre-School REOPENED yesterday after significant water damage. Seeing little bitty ones wandering around the Pre School area like new born puppies was wonderful to see. I commend the hard work done by Faulk and Meek Contractors and the Pre School Faculty and Staff for moving stuff all over the place and bringing it back in time to open yesterday. Now I can read Dr Seuss with a new red hat.
Briefly, the Rectory work continues and we are still aiming for early October.
The new gym floor should arrive Tuesday with installation to take a month. The gym walls have all been closed with new sheetrock, taped and painted. Aiming for Ocotber 27 the reopen. We hope to be able to use the two parish meeting rooms by the end of September.
The two Kindergarten rooms will be ready next week. Over the 30 years the School has existed, wooden items like little stoves and little drawing board were collected. We lost all of that in the flood. We are going to ask parishioners who are carpenters to recreate these.
To the joy of the elementary bibliophiles the Library is to reopen in late September.
On the work front, we’ve had workdays on the last three Saturdays. Really good turn outs each weekend with volunteers. Last weekend we worked on 10 homes. As the weeks have gone by, Ive noticed that the condition of the homes being worked on are more and more desperate. For instance last Saturday the home I worked on had not been touched for 2 weeks. I kept thinking of New Orleans Katrina— stench, flies, rot. As we pulled out what seemed to be a never ending supply of broken, warped furniture, moldy clothing and destroyed electronics, it became clearer to me that from this point on the work of gutting is at an end. Volunteers cannot go into homes at this late time and hope to make progress. The environmental/health issues outweigh the work being done by “volunteers. “ As I look at things, most all of the homes in the parish have already been cleaned out and are in some stage of repair. That’s a good sign. There were two articles in the paper this past week that I thought were significant. The first said that indicators are showing that most people are not abandoning their homes as people did in Katrina. It is believed that this is so because people were able to get to their homes much quicker, the water was gone much quicker, and not all homes in every neighborhood were flooded. So, people whose home’s flooded had a better chance of staying with friends near their damaged home.
The second article said that based on observations the chance of such a flood occurring in S Louisiana are about 40%. This is because of the changes being noticed in weather patterns along the Gulf Coast. I’m not exactly sure what to expect with that observations other than to pose the question “will this happen again, and if so, how soon?”
We have begun receiving the bills for the mitigation and construction. The insurance funding is paying for these so far. I think we will have more trouble with replacing the contents of the flooded buildings.
For the last three weekends, we have served hot lunches after the 9:30 and 11:30am Sunday Masses, thanks to St Jude Parish, St Aloysius Parish; and our Parish Knights of Columbus last weekend. We will not be doing so this weekend, as I sense a shift in the movement of recovery. We are moving from gutting to rebuild. Now, people are waiting for FEMA or to hire a contractor or to have the insurance adjuster come. There is some normalcy returning, even if it’s a “different” normal. While we won’t be serving hot lunches this weekend, we WILL be having Coffee and DONUTS make a return. A little bit of heaven after being around the banquet Table of heaven. Not too shabby.
I am doing well. This past Wednesday I basically hit a wall and felt like I had the flu. I went to St Patricks, crashed and felt better Thursday. Seems that in spite of all the rain, pollen is floating around so allergies are haywire. I am doing well, and I think the Parish is too. We are making this walk together and I would not want to be anywhere else.
Years ago I found this written by Robert Frost about rain:
The rain to the wind said
You push, and I’ll pelt.
So they smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt
And lay lodged, —though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.
It’s a nice way to end this. Thank you for your prayers for me, the parish and our City.