June 10, 2024 | From City of New Orleans

Together New Orleans Launches 11th Community Lighthouse in New Orleans to Prepare for Hurricane Season

NEW ORLEANS — Together New Orleans, a broad-based coalition of congregations and community-based organizations, today installed solar panels at the Christian Unity Baptist Church (1700 Conti St.), marking the near completion of the organization’s 11th Community Lighthouse in New Orleans and the sixth location utilizing funds from the City of New Orleans. This installation comes at the start of hurricane season, which weather forecasters predict could be the most active season in the Atlantic on record. 

“The future of New Orleans depends on our ability to continuously adapt to unprecedented conditions due to our changing climate," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.  "I am proud of the steps that my administration has taken to support and learn from Together New Orleans. The Community Lighthouse Project represents some of the most innovative energy infrastructure investments in the country, and this community-led initiative will have lasting impacts in making us more resilient and sustainable.” 

Since Hurricane Ida made landfall in 2021, Together New Orleans has led the nation in implementing their Community Lighthouse project, which is a network of resiliency hubs that provide commercial-scale solar power and back-up battery capacity to churches and community centers. Following any disaster, these lighthouses are able to immediately assess needs and provide assistance to their surrounding communities in the form of charging stations, food distribution, cooling and heating stations, oxygen exchange and light medical equipment and more. 

“Christian Unity is proud to be the latest Community Lighthouse to join the network of resilience hubs that will serve our people this hurricane season and beyond,” said Pastor Kevin U. Stephens, a Together New Orleans clergy leader and Pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church. “This achievement is a testament to the work of everyday people and to the critical support we’ve received from the City of New Orleans. We’re building more than just structures; we’re building resilience and strengthening our community in our ability to weather storms and other disasters.” 

In the face of increasingly extreme weather events, Community Lighthouses bridge the gap between sustainable infrastructure and community-level investments that provide a post-disaster safe haven for some of the city’s most vulnerable individuals. Currently, Together New Orleans is creating Community Lighthouses throughout Louisiana. Together New Orleans has constructed the first 11 in the city as part of its pilot of 16 lighthouses. Ultimately, the organization aims to construct Community Lighthouses at 86 congregations and community institutions throughout New Orleans.  

Through a combination of a Wisner Grant and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, the City of New Orleans has invested $2 million for the creation of eight Community Lighthouses across Orleans Parish. Together New Orleans has also partnered with the State of Louisiana to secure over $249 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a network of solar and battery powered resilience hubs across Louisiana. 

Since the passing of ARPA in 2021, the City of New Orleans has allocated over $33.5 million in infrastructure investments to make City operations more sustainable and resilient. The City of New Orleans has received over $78 million in federal grants through the Infrastructure & Investments Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, supporting growth in more sustainable energy, transportation, waste and recycling and mitigation measures.   

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