Last week, we called on all our parishes to hold a special collection on Sunday, August 21, for victims of the severe flooding in the state of Louisiana. As you will recall, Vasken Kaltakjian, the parish council chair of St. Garabed Armenian Church in Baton Rouge, reported that three families in the parish were forced to flee their homes, and one parishioner his business in the wake of the flood.
At this time, we have more detailed information on the status of these Armenian families, and we are asking our parishes to conduct additional plate collections for our fellow parishioners in need in the coming weeks. Other fundraising drives parishes wish to organize as part of this relief effort are also welcome.
Individuals and parishes can make checks out to the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (please write “St. Garabed Relief Effort” in the memo, and mail checks to the Diocesan Center, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016). Individuals can also contribute through our Diocesan website.
Four Armenian families in the greater Baton Rouge area have been affected by the flooding:
One family experienced minor damage to their property and has already returned to their home. They are expecting to begin renovations soon.
One parishioner’s house was completely submerged in water. Everything in the house remains unsalvageable, including such basic items as clothing and other personal belongings.
A third family was forced to evacuate their home and will not be able to return for at least six weeks. The first floor of their house was completely flooded, and they lost all furniture, appliances, and other items on the first floor to water damage.
The fourth family experienced damage at their place of business, where two parking lots were flooded and 82 cars were destroyed. In addition, the family owned two rental houses and a fishing camp, all of which were submerged in water.
Two of these families did not have flood insurance as their properties were not located in a flood zone, Mr. Kaltakjian said. Those forced to evacuate their homes are now staying with friends and relatives in the area.
The parish council of St. Garabed Church has been in touch with these parishioners to provide emergency assistance. Their goal is to provide short-term relief while the families await aid from insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
All funds collected in our parishes should be sent to the Diocesan Center no later than Friday, September 16. Please note that all proceeds—100 percent—will go to the relief effort; funds will be distributed by the St. Garabed Armenian Church of Baton Rouge. If you have any questions, please contact Vasken Kaltakjian, the parish council chair of St. Garabed Church, at (225) 413-4620.
Please give generously to support our St. Garabed parishioners in this time of need. And please continue to keep them—and all the victims of the flooding in Louisiana—in your prayers. May God be with our Armenian Christian brothers and sisters, and with all our fellow American citizens, who are enduring the effects of this disaster.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian