For Nic Hunter, the young and relatively new mayor of Lake Charles, there is work aplenty. His city and the entire region of southwest Louisiana has been pummeled not just by one monster hurricane, but another making landfall only about 20 miles from the previous spot.
And he’s worried a smaller city in Louisiana won’t get the help desperately needed.
“I am begging, I am pleading for Americans not to forget Lake Charles,” he told National Public Radio.
We share his concern, as this is one of the worst years possible to have the woes inflicted on the Lake Charles region. We live in an America distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and one of the most divisive elections in a long time. The national bandwidth has also been taken up with wildfires in California and other West Coast states.
At the same time, we have faith that help will be coming. As if in answer to Hunter’s plea, one of the leading national newspapers profiled the struggles of Calcasieu and Cameron parish residents.
“I want people to know that we’re not OK, we’re not back to normal,” said Hunter, who has been mayor since 2017, to The New York Times. “We’re going to do our part. We’re not just sitting on our butts with our hands out, saying, ‘Come do this for me.’ The extent of this catastrophe rises to a level where if it’s going to fall only on locals to help locals, we’re going to be in the thick of recovery much longer than we need to be.”
It’s good exposure for the nation to learn what all of us in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have known about hurricanes’ devastation. “For many residents, life is now consumed by discomfort and distress,” the Times reported. “Days are spent negotiating bureaucracies for insurance help and government aid, cleaning ravaged homes and businesses and wading through the traffic jams of displaced residents.”
A national commitment to restore this region of the state is needed and there have been efforts led by Gov. John Bel Edwards and federal authorities to marshal governmental help. Private companies and some major charities have given six- or seven-figure contributions to the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana and the region’s United Way.
One of the most touching was an envelope from New York with no note, just three $1 bills for the community foundation. Not the biggest gift but emblematic of caring, and that’s something that we should cling to, even as in Louisiana we seek to mobilize every possible assistance for a region hammered by these storms.