Local Churches Come Together to Serve Evacuees from Hurricane Ida

Volunteers from Garrett Memorial Baptist Church and First Baptist Church gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Best Western to serve hamburgers to evacuees from Louisiana who were displaced by Hurricane Ida.

Clif Johnson, pastor of Garrett Memorial Baptist Church, and Daniel Bramlett, pastor of First Baptist Church, saw a need to reach out to those affected by Ida.

Johnson said Bramlett had reached out to see if Garrett Memorial would be willing to help out with the service project after hearing that the hotels in town were holding between 200 to 400 evacuees from the affected area.

Johnson, who has pastored at Garrett for the past 16 years, said the idea was born out of a heart to serve people. During Katrina, Johnson said, Garrett Memorial and other churches from Hope housed evacuees and, while they’ve not had to take in any overflow, he hoped to be able to do something for people who had been uprooted by the storm.

Bramlett, himself a Katrina evacuee, said he could empathize with those who had made the journey to Hope. He said hurricane season always brings those memories back and when he was approached by Helen Byers, with Hope in Action, and Charlton Luker, operations director of Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, he was more than happy to serve those with need.

Bramlett remarked that those from pre-Katrina Louisiana had trouble finding their way around upon returning because so many landmarks had been washed away. He said that after being run out of their homes and neighborhoods, he believed these evacuees deserved the same spirit of openness and giving that he observed after Katrina.

Luker and the staffs of the hotels hung signs announcing the cookout. The hotels even called the guests’ rooms individually to tell them about the service.

People gathered around 4:00 p.m. outside the Best Western and, despite the circumstances, spirits seemed generally high. Some remarked that, even though it was their first visit to Arkansas, let alone Hope, they had found the people to be welcoming and friendly.

In all, Johnson estimated that they had about 100 evacuees show up. The two churches have decided to extend the event to tomorrow night as well. People will gather at 6:00 p.m. at Garrett Memorial, with First Baptist co-sponsoring.

Garrett Memorial Baptist Church is located at 1 Genesis Drive, Hope, AR. First Baptist Church is located at 315 South Main Street, Hope, AR.

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