Delivery of tarps to the Catholic Charities of Acadiana warehouse this week meant 250 Louisiana families would be able to protect their rooftops. It’s a start.
The tarps were sent from New York and Rhode Island at the behest of Goodwill of Acadiana, which networked with colleagues nationally for help — pronto. Good thing, too: Tarps are in short supply on Louisiana’s coast, victim of Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and of Hurricane Delta last Friday. Roof shingles are in short supply, too: So many hurricanes, so many battered roofs, so few materials. Recovery won’t come fast.
What’s not in short supply is damage: In Lake Charles, which was twice pummeled by hurricanes within six weeks; in Cameron Parish, where human beings were already scarce on the ground from Hurricane Laura; in Acadia or Vermilion or St. Landry parishes or in hamlets and towns within a northeastern swath across Louisiana.
Troubling for Louisiana is that its people may not be well-equipped to handle this latest blow from nature. Some spent what they had on Laura’s devastation. Ben Broussard, spokesman for Catholic Charities of Acadiana, said that agency and others are reaching out again to protect those who’ve been damaged and remain too ill-equipped to recover. That means the elderly and disabled, those poorly insured or uninsured, or without family and friends.
Broussard said as precious as the recent help is from the northeastern states, Louisiana’s hard-pressed poor must rely more heavily instead on people who live closer by: Louisianans outside the storm’s thrust, or former Louisianans who’ve established new lives in Dallas and Houston and Atlanta. Oftentimes, he said, help comes to Louisiana from those who’ve lived here or experienced our culture.
“We are good people,” he said. “Who doesn’t want to reach out and help good people?”
But is that enough? Broussard said news accounts about Hurricane Laura kept top billing in national news for a few days; news about Hurricane Delta dissipated more quickly. He said Louisiana got top national news billing the day after Delta, almost top billing the day after, but was gone by Monday. Southwestern Louisiana is badly damaged, but not top of mind to those who live elsewhere.
That means we as Louisiana people must rely upon ourselves rather than on others for recovery. Help from the outside world, such as that shown by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita or even from Laura, is not forthcoming — not as much as we need.
But if people in New York or Rhode Island can lend a hand, Louisiana people should, too. Louisianans should take up the cause — donate, volunteer labor, encourage the discouraged — to help their damaged neighbors. That’s what makes us good people, worthy ourselves, of help.