By Mikaela Chiasson-Knight Managing editor
Even in times of devastation, the locals of Louisiana’s bayou region are vigilant about giving back to their communities. As soon as Hurricane Ida ripped through the area, people from all areas began helping those in need.
“Even though so many people were struggling after the storm passed, it was awesome to see how many people were willing to step up and give back,” says Ben Bufkin, senior pastor at Living Word Church in Schriever. “The day after the storm, we were receiving messages from people asking how they could help.”
Most people suffered loss themselves but were quick to give back to their neighbors. Houma local Diya Miller was one of the people who gave back even when she herself had lost.
“It’s much easier to help others than to help myself,” she says. “I had lost my job the week prior, so I had free time. I’d call it a ‘hunting and gathering’ day. I’d bring home what myself and neighbors needed and deliver the rest.”
– Diya Miller Houma resident
While local residents and businesses have given back to the community and provided people with essential needs, Louisiana has also received assistance from out-of-state and national organizations like Convoy of Hope.
Convoy of Hope is an international non-profit organization “on a mission to feed the hungry and bring help and hope to communities that need it most,” according to their website. This organization reports supplying 3.5 million pounds of essential items to Louisiana after Ida.
Some people, like Tondra and Emily Avet, even worked with donation drives when they personally lost their home in Chauvin. Though their family home is totaled, the mother-daughter duo did not hesitate to put neighbors first.
For weeks now, Ward’s Club Citizen’s Club in Chauvin has transformed into a hub for all sorts of donations. Terrebonne Parish Councilman, Dirk Guidry, said in a press conference that Ward 7 has seen hundreds of cars daily since Sept. 3.
Emily Avet, 18, has worked tirelessly at Ward 7 to provide her neighbors-in-need with essential items, while collecting items she and her family need as well.
“It was crazy to see how many other states donated to us,” she says. “They gave us so much stuff from tissues, toilet paper, and napkins to feminine products, soaps and baby necessities and so many canned goods.”
Many other groups, like Living Word Church, have been organizing donations as well. Bufkin, senior pastor, and his family stayed in the church while Ida made landfall and began arranging donations right after the storm passed.
“We were blessed to have other state organizations sending us supplies,” he says. “I believe our numbers were around fifteen semi-trucks full of supplies. We had cooking teams out here every day serving hundreds of people.”
Living Word Church member Manny Vera hosted a free-haircut event on multiple occasions after the storm since most salons were damaged, closed or had limited hours. Manny gave free haircuts to around 50 people.
“I just asked myself ‘What can I do? How can I help?’” he says. “I love to cut hair and share the love of Christ, so we made it happen.”
Miller had the chance to work with lots of locals and organizations like: The United Houma Nation, Church of Christ, even Youngsville musician David Cook. She was able to provide necessities for so many members of the community.
“I truly believe in Karma and that’s the reason I had what I needed,” she says. “Including an excess of fuel, I could share with others.”