When residents of the Esplanade at City Park community got home on Saturday, January 22, 2023, the highrise building with hundreds of tenants returned to dark and desolate apartments. A transformer near the building's property blew out and all power deceased. Residents of this Mid-City New Orleans community figured power would be out for an hour or two. The Entergy workers would come and fix it and power would be restored shortly, as it usually happens after any bad storm in New Orleans. They never imagined power would be out a whole week.
Understandably, residents voiced their frustrations on social media and eventually the City of New Orleans responded. Councilmen who were not aware of the situation reached out. City Officials investigated. During the investigative charade, which rendered no clear answers as to why the power faulted, the residents were not only without power, but the lack of power meant they were without food and hot water.
"I saw it on the news and I couldn't believe what I was seeing," said Pastor James Thomas, of Epic Church New Orleans. He reached out to a friend who lives there to confirm the depth of the situation. "It was dark, cold, and very uncomfortable. People had to stay in hotels and Air BnBs. Everyone had to pretty much clean out their refrigerators," said Reaux Fareal, a resident and founder of The Parlay Brand. He and Pastor Thomas were both concerned about many of the retired seniors who live on the property and the lack of support they were given during the week of discomfort.
Pastor Thomas is no stranger to the Mid-City Community. Because he and Reaux are close friends, visiting the facility, he has connected to several of the families who live there. Thomas had planned a Men's Outreach Night on the property long before the power blew out. "We had already planned to begin connecting with the residents at Esplanade on a monthly basis but when this situation occurred, God revealed a more urgent assignment for our church." Pastor Thomas saw news coverage of a resident speaking about the situation and it touched him. "I heard a lady on the news say, what about us? What about our food? Who is caring about us? I knew then, exactly what God needed us to do," explained Thomas. "These wonderful people needed to know God cares and He will send His people who care."
Reaux Fareal, Chief Executive Officer for The Parlay Foundation, volunteered to assist the church and help with organizing, since he lives on the property and knew most of the residents personally. Epic Church fried tons of fish and prepared vegetables to feed every resident on the property. They supplied enough for the residents to even take food to eat later. The Parlay Foundation contributed chicken and beverages for the residents and supplied music and entertainment. While food was being served, the power in the facility was restored after being lost for nearly a whole week.
Messages of support were posted all over social media in gratitude for the positive energy and hope this event restored in the citizens. Residents are currently operating under backup generators and still haven't been given a clear explanation for what caused the malfunction of power. According to the Property Manager, it was an Entergy default. According to Entergy, it was a property malfunction.
Pastor James Thomas and Epic Church plans to hold Bible Studies and other Community Events on the property. Esplanade At City Park is one of New Orleans' premiere living facilities, which housed over 400 residents pre-Hurricane Ida.