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PROJECTS BLOG 09/29/2016

Holy Grounds

Holy Grounds by Kevin O’Neill

On the outskirts of Greensburg, LA, just outside of the city limits, Darlington Church of God in Christ has been a pillar of the community, serving its members for nearly 100 years. On August 12, the catastrophic flood waters that submerged thousands of houses in southern Louisiana rushed into the Darlington Church and destroyed nearly everything.

The flood waters ran deep and their current was so strong that several vaults in the church’s cemetery were disinterred. Over 30 coffins and burial vaults, weighing up to a ton, were carried up to 1000 feet into the woods adjacent.

Darlington is in dire straits, and their situation is worsened by its unique position both geographically and politically. The church does not qualify for FEMA assistance under the Public Assistance program, however some assistance is available for the reinterment of the displaced caskets through the Individual Assistance program. FEMA is working with Homeland Security and the families to get the Darlington Church and Cemetery Board the funding it needs to reenter the coffins. The town of Greensburg cannot provide much help either because the church is located outside its municipal limits. While disaster response efforts and resources are pouring into the region, Darlington Church has fallen between the gaps of the relief organizations.

So far, the only help they’ve gotten is from the Parish, local residents,volunteers and First Responders, who collected the caskets and a solitary tent provided by the Department of Health to house the caskets. The tent is air conditioned by a generator that they only have the resources to run sporadically.

I visited the site Wednesday and witnessed, first hand, the devastation. Even though the church has been gutted and emptied, I could imagine it in its glory, with pews filled of soulful spirits expressing their faith and enjoying the unity of the community for the last 96 years.

The once buried coffins and empty plots scattered about the church’s expansive cemetery field was a shocking sight. Only a small percentage of the disinterred have been identified. Burial services cannot happen until the rest of the disinterred have been identified and the Cemetery Board receives adequate funding for the purpose.


The unprecedented Louisiana flood disaster damaged well over 140,000 homes and buildings in 20 Louisiana parishes. The people in the St. Helena Parish community, where Darlington Church is located, are in desperate need of help.

Restoring the church building to its former condition could take years. Any aid or donation you can make now would provide the church with immediate relief for the families waiting to return their loved ones to their peaceful resting place and help Darlington commence the rebuilding process as soon as possible.

Here are the links to their GoFundMe campaigns:

Want to know more about the LA Flood Relief?  Click HERE.


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