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Congregation Arrives for Outdoor Mass, Finds Lights On

Louisiana parishioners find donated goods in the pews
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
Church Lights Come On in Time for Mass
Cindy Rojas cleans mud and floodwater from her driveway in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida on Sunday in Lafitte, La.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

(Newser) – Amid the dramatic devastation caused by Hurricane Ida, there was at least one bright light Sunday near New Orleans: Parishioners found that electricity had been restored to their church, a small improvement as residents of Louisiana struggle to recover. In Jefferson Parish, the Rev. G. Amaldoss expected to celebrate Mass at St. Joachim Catholic Church in the parking lot, which was dotted with downed limbs. But when he swung open the doors of the church early Sunday, the sanctuary was bathed in light. That made an indoor service possible, the AP reports. "Divine intervention," Amaldoss said.

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As Mass began, Amaldoss walked down the aisle of the church, with just eight people spread among the pews. Instead, the seats brimmed with boxes of donated toothpaste, shampoo, and canned vegetables. "For all the people whose lives are saved and all the people whose lives are lost, we pray for them," he said. "Remember the brothers and sisters driven by the wind and the water." Some parishioners suffered total losses of their homes, or devastating damage. Others' were barely touched. Gina Caulfield, a 64-year-old retired teacher, has been hopping from relative to relative after her cousin’s trailer, where she’d been living, was left uninhabitable. "It's a comfort to know we have people praying for us," she said.

More than 630,000 homes and businesses remained without power Sunday across southeast Louisiana, according to the state Public Service Commission. At the peak, 902,000 customers had lost power. Louisiana's 12 storm-related deaths included five nursing home residents evacuated ahead of the hurricane along with hundreds of other seniors to a warehouse in Louisiana, where officials said conditions became unsafe. The state health officer ordered the immediate closure of the seven nursing facilities that sent residents to the Tangipahoa Parish warehouse facility. "The lack of regard for these vulnerable residents' wellbeing is an affront to human dignity," said Dr. Joseph Kanter. "We have lost trust in these nursing homes to provide adequate care for their residents."

(Read more Hurricane Ida stories.)

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