Baker, in collaboration with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and the Louisiana National Guard, held a Labor Day relief effort that brought food, water and supplies to 1,500 capital area households still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The storm, one of the strongest to hit the Louisiana Gulf Coast, came onshore Aug. 29 bringing wind and water damage, but it also left close to one million households without power. Because of the loss of power and the heat, residents struggled to stay cool and hydrated and find ways to feed their families.
Baker Mayor Darnell Waites charged his staff with finding ways to bring a relief effort to the city on the day that the storm hit. When the storm passed, Chief Administrative Officer Angela Machen took the reigns of the effort and pulled together the major and volunteering partners.
“We didn’t have very much time,” Machen said. “The mayor called me the day of the storm and said he wanted to see if we could get a food distribution together. I sent an email to Mike Manning, and they were very responsive. The Food Bank is absolutely awesome.”
Logistics and traffic created problems in the wake of Ida as tasks as simple as getting gas drew long lines, heightened frustration, and, in some cases, violent confrontations. The Louisiana National Guard and the Baker Police Department worked to create an orderly process and monitored traffic flow. The distribution site, the Advantage Charter Academy, was originally the Baker Walmart site, and the group took advantage of the massive parking lot to create multiple car lines and staging areas in which several cars were served in a flow like an assembly line.
The volunteers were quickly trained to work with coded hand symbols to keep up with the groupings and respond with food and water. Volunteers represented several community groups including Renew Church, New Covenant Christian Center’s Move Your Feet Organization, Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn Jr., the Baker Rotary Club and the Baker Pilot Club. Other city agencies included the Public Works Department and the Fire Department. The pallets of water were donated by Capital Area Transportation.
Community volunteers join Louisiana National Guardsmen Monday, August 6 to help distribute food and water to residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Angela Machen, chief administrative officer for Baker, helps organize the food distribution event held Monday, August 6, in Baker.
Residents in lines of cars wait for food and water Monday, August 6, in Baker a week after Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coastline.
Baker Rotary Club member Desiree Collins helps fill cars with supplies Monday, August 6, a week after Hurricane Ida moved through south Louisiana.
Southern Lab teacher Tony Browns signals as he helps fill cars with supplies Monday, August 6, a week after Hurricane Ida moved through south Louisiana.
Residents wait in a staging area for food and water Monday, August 6, in Baker a week after Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coastline.
Volunteers help distribute food and water Monday, August 6, to residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Residents wait in line for food and water Monday, August 6, in Baker a week after Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coastline.
Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn mounts a four-wheeler Monday, August 6, while helping to maintain order during a food distribution event.