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While continuous coverage of the Olympic swim team situation inundated the news this past week, South Louisiana was being devastated by an “unprecedented deluge that forced tens of thousands to abandon their homes and virtually all their belongings.” Unfortunately, that headline didn’t become big news until yesterday.

It was social media that best reported the story with real-time posts and photos of underwater homes and property that spread quickly via shares by those personally connected to the area or to loved ones who live there. For Sara Miller, Executive Assistant at Unbridled Solutions, seven family members are directly affected by this “overlooked tragedy,” as her uncle called it on his Facebook page. Along with pictures of his underwater hometown of Abbeville, he posted this comment to relay the vast dimensions of the situation: “Multiply what you see by 100+ communities from east to west across South Louisiana, and you begin to see the true scope of the tragedy.”

Other family members directly affected by the flooding include Sara’s aunt and cousin, her grandmother, and three great-aunts (pictured above) who were rescued from the home they’ve shared in Abbeville for more than 60 years. Through the decades, the three ex-nuns, now in their seventies and eighties, have weathered many natural catastrophes that come with calling Louisiana home, including Hurricane Katrina. But long-time residents all agree…”this flood is like nothing they’ve ever seen before.”

Sara’s great-aunts, now in their seventies and eighties, have never had to rely on canes and wheelchairs before, either…a reality that necessitated their relocation to a shelter by the National Guard until their fourth sister (Sara’s grandmother) could prepare a place for them in her home that has become a refuge for all seven of the family members.

It’s what you do when you’re family. It’s what you do when you’re neighbors going through the same unimaginable loss. It’s what you do when you’re trained in disaster relief…because you care about far-away people affected by terrible things. It’s why Terry Felder from Denham Springs drove through his neighborhood in the middle of the night last Sunday, leaning on his horn to wake people up, even though it was already too late…the water was rising too fast. It’s also why UnbridledACTS Executive Director, Olivia McGraw and her husband, Jonathan, leave for Louisiana tomorrow. To put their feet on the ground and their hearts into helping families sift through heaps of flood-soaked belongings to salvage what they can for the painstaking process of starting over. Because that’s what caring looks like…

As a member of the Bethel Global Response team, Olivia helped write curriculum and train response teams for worldwide deployment during times of disaster. Whether domestic or international, she and her team members stand by, along with other organizations, to offer physical, emotional, and spiritual support, as well as mobilize necessary supplies for critical needs. For the flood victims in Louisiana, BGR will partner with Operation Blessing, an international relief organization that is distributing food, safe water, medicine, vital supplies, and massive amounts of hugs and hope to the state of Louisiana to help families begin the long-term process of debris clean-up, repairs, and getting back on their feet…yet again.

On behalf of UnbridledACTS, we thank you for your response to our post about joining the efforts of Bethel Global Response and Operation Blessing in Louisiana. You’ll be hearing more from Olivia and Jonathan in weeks to come…and in the meantime, we appreciate your prayers and partnership on behalf of Sara’s family and countless others affected by this devastating situation.