Louisiana Hurricane Relief

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Bree Caldwell

Bree Caldwell and Gabby Macnamara take pictures of the damage in their town with a sign reading “Help Louisiana.” Hurricanes Laura and Delta caused damage to many buildings, including schools, homes, and workplaces.

Recently, Louisiana has been destroyed by two hurricanes, Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. The damage is disastrous with many towns in ruins. There is so much being done to help Louisiana citizens with reconstruction and much more that needs to be done. 

One student affected by the storm moved from Louisiana to Atascocita because of the damage and because she was not sure when her school would open again.

“My schooling was affected drastically because my school in Lake Charles never got the chance to start because of the storm and by the time we moved and I was able to get into school here, AHS was already five weeks into the grading period,” senior Rae Jemison said. “I had so much makeup work to do and was really behind. My teachers have been extremely understanding and helpful during this process.” 

Though it has been some time since the storm, the damage is still great in these areas. 

“I wish people would realize that even though the storm passed, its effects are still very prevalent in the day-to-day lives of those who were affected by it,” Jemison said. “In my town, there is still only one store open. Most people still don’t have their internet back. Public schools opened for the first time on Friday. Many people are still out of work and repairing damages to their homes. Trash and debris from that night still line the roads. Our town doesn’t look the same anymore and it’s a long way from getting back to where it was.” 

A bright side of the situation can be found even amidst all of this destruction.

“The good that has come from Laura is seeing people who live states away coming to help our tiny town,” Jemison said. “It’s so nice to see how easily people empathize with our situation and how ready everyone was to lend a helping hand.”

While Jemison’s hometown of Lake Charles continues to get help from outside sources with their disaster relief, Sulfur, Louisiana does as well. Junior Gabby Macnamara attends Sulfur High School in Sulfur and has concerns over the rebuilding of her community.

“It’s been amazing,” Macnamara said. “So many places, so many churches, so many, even the fast food places are handing out free food. Our police officers were so exhausted after the hurricanes. We had sheriff’s departments from all over the state come so that our police officers could get some rest and be with their families and deal with their own homes. The restaurants handed out free food and it’s just been so awesome to see all of the communities coming together.”

This fast food restaurant has had damage from the storm. Hurricanes Delta and Laura caused great damage to many restaurants and other buildings and businesses. (Dominic LeDoux)

Macnamara’s power was restored quickly because there were a lot of energy companies that sent linemen from all over the country to help. Even with all of the help, she thinks much more is still needed in these areas.

“I definitely think that we need more help,” Macnamara said. “We need more media coverage, that would help.  [We need] teams to help people to remove all of the debris. We’ve gotten so much help it’s overwhelming, but you can never have too much help.”

The school situation in these areas was complicated, though some students have since returned to the school buildings, with Macnamara’s going back full time on Nov. 30.

“It’s been so hard,” Macnamara said. “We were supposed to go back to school face-to-face because of all of the COVID-19 stuff the week that hurricane Laura hit. Then we were going to go back at the beginning of October and then Hurricane Delta hit, so it’s just been thing after thing.”

In Sulfur, many students still don’t have internet access, so they cannot participate in school online. This affects all students because teachers are not recording grades. Another issue that makes this situation more complicated is COVID. The residents are finding it hard to follow the pandemic rules.

“Our church had a supply distribution center and we handed out free meals for lunch and dinner and we didn’t wear masks,” Macnamara said. “COVID just went out the door. It was 100 degree heat with no AC, no drinkable water, no plumbing so masks were just not reasonable for us to wear, it just wasn’t a thing.”

Concerns with COVID have also prevented a lot of the teams to not come to these hard-hit areas because of restrictions in their states and in their areas. COVID has been another obstacle these towns have had to face during the aftermath of these storms. The hurricanes in Louisiana have brought destruction to so much.

“Coming home and seeing all of the damage just around our tiny little town and just seeing everything ruined was so hard,” Macnamara said. “It’s people’s livelihoods and their homes and now they have nothing. Just seeing everything ruined, it was a big emotional strain. Some places [where] I’ve had so many good memories are just gone.”

Macnamara sits in front of the rubble of a building in Louisiana. She wears a mask because though the hurricane changed the way people were able to socially distance and how often they were able to wear masks, COVID-19 is still a concern and a contributor in the situation. (Bree Caldwell)

People have banded together in Louisiana to rebuild and restore the towns destroyed by Hurricane Laura. Out of the destruction has come a new sense of community. Although more is still needed to restore what was lost, people are moving forward in their rebuilding, opening schools and workplaces.