Matthew Chouest, pastor of Golden Meadow Baptist Church, grew up in Golden Meadow and had never evacuated when hurricanes threatened. But Hurricane Ida, which pummeled western Louisiana in 2021, was different.
As the storm approached, he and his family and many church members sought shelter about 200 miles away in Eunice, La. They evacuated on a Sunday and returned three days later.
“I got back and couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything was changed. I didn’t know when we could even start doing recovery,” the pastor said.
The storm devastated the community. The church did not escape as its brick veneer back wall collapsed into the sanctuary, destroying the baptistry area and ruining the three-week-old roof that had finally replaced the one damaged by Hurricane Laura the year before. The church gym was spared and became a massive distribution center for food, clothing, water, and supplies for Golden Meadow and nearby Galliano.
About three weeks after the hurricane, when the waters had receded enough to make recovery efforts feasible, Chouest received a call from SBTC Disaster Relief asking if his church and community were interested in help with mud-out and recovery efforts.
“We were distraught,” Chouest said. “Then God’s people just showed up. SBTC DR were the first ones to show up.”
SBTC DR and other Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers stayed in the area for 60 days, working with resources that were generously given through the Reach Texas offering. Among many projects, they helped make the parsonage livable by removing soggy sheetrock, spraying anti-mold treatment, replacing the roof, and even pulling up, drying, and reinstalling the vinyl flooring.
The work on his home enabled Chouest, who had been staying in the “dry half of the house,” to continue ministering to the community he loves and providing hope—the same kind of hope DR volunteers had provided to him.