Upbring Disaster Response Update: Feb. 23 Severe Weather Event

One week after a long and difficult stretch of severe weather throughout the South and tornadoes in Louisiana, initial recovery efforts continue across impacted areas. The U.S. Storm Prediction Center confirmed that the 13 tornadoes which hit Louisiana on Tuesday, Feb. 23, set a record for the most occurring in one day during the month of February.

Jessica Vermilyea, Director, Upbring Disaster Response, the new LSSDR, reported that St. James and St. John the Baptist Parishes were the hardest hit in Louisiana, with Assumption and Livingston Parishes also receiving substantial damage.

St. James Parish
Specifically at Sugar Hill RV Park in Convent, St. James Parish, there were two confirmed fatalities, 31 people hospitalized and seven listed in critical condition. In total, 100 trailers were damaged at the trailer park of approximately 160 homes and 300 residents.  Outside of the RV park area, more than 50 homes were also damaged or destroyed – efforts for clean-up are currently underway.

St. John the Baptist Parish
Only a short four years after Hurricane Isaac caused more than $2 billion in damage to Louisiana and Mississippi, the community of St. John the Baptist Parish is once again rebuilding their lives. Initial estimates are that approximately 400 homes have been impacted.

During the first 24 hours, Upbring Disaster Response was on the ground meeting with parish officials and community partners to help coordinate the opening of the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC), distribution and feeding efforts. In addition, volunteers are now working on clean-up and debris removal.

Although damage assessments are still underway, the Long Term Recovery Committee reconvened earlier this week to begin plans that will address needs based on the extent of damage and to identify those who will require additional assistance. Jessica, who served as a member of the Executive Committee during Hurricane Isaac, will continue in the same role for this event.

Upbring Disaster Response – who responded during Hurricane Isaac’s recovery efforts – continues regular communication with our Lutheran partners, community and governmental partners and is working with Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) to assist in immediate recovery efforts.

Emergency Declarations
Nine parishes have received emergency declarations:

·         Ascension ·         Livingston ·         St. James
·         Assumption ·         Pointe Coupee ·         St. John the Baptist
·         Iberville ·         St. Helena ·         Washington

Texas Update
Although storms were not as devastating in Texas, two school districts canceled classes after power outages and damages made it dangerous for students to attend in Brackett and San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated ISDs. It was reported in Del Rio that approximately 10,000 customers were without power Feb. 23.

Long-Term Plans
As we continue to gather information and determine what the long-term recovery plans are, we promise to share it with you. We do know there will be a need for financial assistance to aid in rebuilding and replacement of household and personal goods.

We ask that you continue to pray for the storm victims and their families.

Lutheran Disaster Response will continue to accompany Upbring Disaster Response as they continue to be present in the communities affected by the February 23 Severe weather event.

Here’s how you can be a part of the response:


Please pray for all those affected by this crisis. Remember those who have lost everything and all those who are working to respond. You can use these prayers and resources in your worship services.


Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used to provide immediate and/or longer-term recovery relief.


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