Louisiana–The Forgotten Battleground of Gustov and Ike (Rita too)

AMERICA—The call has gone forth and has not being heeded.

AMERICA—The needs are far greater than anyone knows.

AMERICA—Are you going to step up and meet the needs.

AMERICA—Your brothers and sisters await you.

While the vast majority of Americans are either pre-occupied with the daily financial market soap opera installment or spend all their time wondering what their favorite candidate said or didn’t say today; deep in our country’s hurricane ravaged South, the pain is deep and the need is greater. A story which should be at the top of the news has, amazingly almost dropped out of sight in the media.

On Labor day, Hurricane Gustov slammed into the central Louisiana coast as a strong category 3 hurricane. While all the eyes of the nation were glued to see whether New Orleans would survive; nary a soul was watching to see what Gustov actually did. As constant images of flood walls being overtopped by a little water filled our television screen, those gathered in Minnesota for the start of the Republican National Convention were holding a telethon to raise money for Gustov victims.

Amazingly, the next day Gustov was ancient history except for a few stories of evacuees scattered all over the Southern states. There was no media coverage of the damage caused by Gustov outside of New Orleans. By Wednesday of that week, there was no longer any coverage of the event whatsoever as all media attention was switched to the speech by Gov. Palin at the Convention.

As soon as the Convention ended, tropical storm/hurricane Hanna came to life and threatened Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina. Even while Hanna was toying with becoming a major storm, hurricane Ike exploded in the Bahamas into a giant hurricane. By the time Hanna had come and gone, Ike was quickly becoming the major story as it first destroyed Cuba and then set his sights on various places along the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, during this period of time, an absolutely incredible thing was taking place. Deep in the very heart of Louisiana, Hurricane Gustov victims were by and large being totally neglected and forgotten. Unlike every other major hurricane to strike this country, there was no media coverage, no racing to the scene by various charities and very little help from even government agencies. It was as if no one cared about what had happened because of the people involved.

Who lives in this area of Louisiana anyway? What do they do down there? Why should I care about some God forsaken, mosquito infested backwater chunk of real estate in one of the strangest states in the country? These were the questions America asked after Gustov, instead of those which should have been asked.

Should it really matter where disaster strikes in this country? Should it really matter whether those impacted are rich or poor, white or black of English origin or Cajuns? Should it really matter if the area which is devastated is lush farmland or a swamp? Should it really matter what state the disaster is in?

Hurricane Rita ravaged this area three years ago. No one knew and no one cared. One ministry out of Lafayette tried to provide food and supplies to people scattered from Cameron Parish to New Iberia. That is until their resources ran out 9 months after Rita hit. There was never any Red Cross or Salvation Army presence. FEMA came and moved in and quickly moved out to handle Katrina related matters. While these tattered and torn people had no one helping them, those in New Orleans and Mississippi were being flooded with supplies and volunteers.

Does lightning strike twice? You bet, especially when those who have little to begin with are affected. Those people scattered in south central Louisiana were devastated by Rita in 2005 with little or no outside help to repair and rebuild. This same area, but now including Baton Rouge and Lafayette had to deal with the full fury of hurricane Gustov. Lest we forget, Gustov was a stronger hurricane than Ike. Less than two weeks after Gustov, this same area was swamped by hurricane Ike.

What is it like to live in an area no one knows about or cares anything about? It breeds self reliance and extreme bitterness. Those who live in these areas are highly skeptical of anyone claiming they want to help. They have been neglected and forgotten about countless times. Why should they believe this time is any different?

Last week, the day before Ike hit; a retire medical doctor from Gulfport, MS who goes only by “Doc” braved the rising waters and took some much needed food to these people in south central Louisiana. Just barely beating the rising storm surge from Ike leaving, he was awed by what he saw. This says a lot because Doc has been rounding up food and other supplies for Katrina victims since the day after Katrina hit.

Yesterday Carolyn Thompson from Tri Coastal Community Outreach in Grand Bay, Alabama returned with Doc to Louisiana to drop off more supplies. Fighting knee deep water, the devastation they found is beyond description. Yet, America does not know and could really care less about what is going on in New Iberia, Louisiana. See, America is too busy raising money to elect another worthless President. America is too busy crying over drops in the Stock Market. America is too busy trying to help those in Houston and Galveston to worry about Louisiana.

Please America, though they may not be many and they are certainly not mighty or influential; our fellow citizens in Louisiana desperately need our help. Unlike Texas where outside help has problems getting in, there is no such problems in Louisiana. Any and all help is desperately needed. For more information and current status please contact:

Carolyn Thompson, Director of Tri Coastal Community Outreach–(228) 623-0017, or go to Tri Coastal’s website at http://www.tricoastalcommunity.org/main.htm or contact me via my website at http://heart2heartshare.com/contactus.htm

The Gustov/Ike legacy is FAR MORE than Houston or Galveston. There are smaller less populated areas stretching from Galveston all the way to Mobile, Alabama which have suffered greatly from storm surge damage from these two storms. Please, there are huge immediate needs NOT being met in many of these areas. As soon as the water ever goes down, there will be a gigantic need for supplies and volunteers all along the Gulf coast.


9 Responses to “Louisiana–The Forgotten Battleground of Gustov and Ike (Rita too)”

  1. 1 Alison
    September 17, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Thank you so much for speaking out for Louisiana. We have been hit by the two storms where I live. We have housed many friends and relatives that were worse off than us. You are definately right about this area not getting enough supplies. We did not get much help after Rita either. So we all got together and helped each other. What else were we supposed to do. All the attention is going to these big cities. What about the little people. Most of us cant go back to work. There is no work to return to. Especially in Cameron. Our children have no school to go back to. They will probably make them have school into the summer next year. But with New Orleans, they did not have to make up anything, their grades on tests did not count, and everyone passed to the next grade. Thanks again for writing this piece. I just wish more people had access to it.

  2. 2 Nola
    September 19, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Hello from California to you in Louisianna! I am a hurricane widow-NOT LITERALLY- but my husband left our hometown here in the mountains of CA last week to help you out there in need of getting your new roofs put on when your insurance paperwork is in order. I miss him so much, but nothing of a sacrifice that you people have had to endure! He is an honest guy with your immediate needs foremost at heart. He is trying to help us out as well as he has not worked in CA for several months and we are suffering finacially too. I have never blogged before but as his wife I feel compelled to write and offer his name-Kenny- with Sta Dry Roofing. They should have signs up all over! They just set up shop there for you in Houma and I do hope you give him a try to get your roof replaced as soon as possible. You certainly have been in my prayers here in CA and from what my hubby tells me about LA (he worked on Katrina and Rita too) he really likes you down to earth folks. And, funny, my name is Nola-and I hope you read this and we can help each other. You won’t be sorry to meet my hubby. He will go to bat for you!

  3. 3 Concerned American
    September 21, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I tripped over this blog and it does my committed heart a world of good to hear the truth no one will tell you about Southwestern Louisiana.

    I’ve been a ‘virtual volunteer’ since Katrina, and I know that every word you’ve written here is the truth.

    I’ve been focused on Terrebonne Parish, where Gustav tore roofs off, damaged roofs and forced the Bayou Communities to evacuate. This was costly for an impoverished and still recovering (from Katrina and Rita). When you live on the edge financially, you can’t afford a second evacuation less than two weeks later.

    While Republicans were hammering away at us in the media and probably bitter that Mother Nature stole their convention’s thunder, I was receiving urgent calls from SW Louisiana for help getting gas cans to a levee breech site and their own local governement put citizens lives in danger because they don’t have any clue what they are doing and they could care less about folks they interpret as asking for a handout, not a hand up.

    I have found the Bayou Community people to be the warmest, most loving and HARD WORKING people who like you say have had to resort to self sufficiency. I do not blame their bitterness because once again, like so many times before, people make empty promises.

    FEMA did not show up for 5 days post Gustav. Salvation Army’s and Red Cross’s presence has been skethy and clearly not deployed to a level of the obvious needs. I spoke to an indian chief in the area on 9/10 and he told me “Ya Red Cross actually showed up with a few hot meals for the people yesterday. This was a first”. I said “Oh, you mean since Gustav”? He said “Oh no since EVER…they weren’t here for Katrina or Rita”.

    The oil companies and our federal government could not be happier that this happened and these southwestern parishes have been impacted. Mother Nature has done their dirty work. Now they can count on catastrophe to drive them out of this oil rich land that has already been destroyed by their drilling. The barrier islands used to be a place these communities could camp and fish on. They protected the coast. Well they are as much a far gone memory now. We all want to think Global Warming has something to with the severity of these more and more frequent storms. America’s greed has more to do with it than mother nature. We needed the oil. We turned our backs and our cheeks against the harsh reality and allowed the greedy oil companies (DRIVEN BY AMERICANS GREED) to destroy this beautiful environment and now there is no barrier to the severity and land whittles away, not bit by bit, but exponentially with every storm.

    The indian nations now have to seriously consider the offers to move their bands to other safer, healthier environments…not by choice but for the most practical reasons. Right now, they can’t fish to take care of their families, and plenty of folks (not Doc thank the Gods) with lots of good intentions dangle the carrot of help in their faces, but trucks never come. These people don’t have bleach to clean out their homes full of mud and marsh grass, nobody’s showed up with a shovel and what little has shown up is just not enough. One tribe I’ve worked with has been helping another one in a different parish that is worse off than even they are. They do it because no one else will.

    I do not discount Texas in any way. There are great needs there. You’d never know it because of the media blackout. I must say in all my experience in disaster relief I have never seen two storms go off the radar so quickly. Election year or not, wall street or not, this is a crime against humanity.

    I could tell you more stories that would make your skin curl, but I must stop here. The whole things makes me deeply fatigued and upset and I have to reserve my energy to keep plugging away at my pleas to donors to continue to help and not forget these people. I’ll be successful to some degree, but not to the level that is deserved for these folks to have even the most basic survival supplies.

    I pray that if you are reading this, you won’t forget. Lest we all become so desensizized and move on to our own busy lives, disaster is coming to a town near you. Lots of people suggest that those folks set themselves up for disaster just because they ‘choose’ to live in that place. Would you suggest that the entire state of California pick up and move because we have constant earthquakes and wildifres? Maybe the Midwest should up and move themselves because of their floods and tornado’s too huh? Where would you suggest we go then? And when you need the help, remember, you could be the forgotten one.


    A Very Concerned Citizen Volunteer Who Will Never Forget Those In Need

  4. 4 Nick
    October 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    “Virtual volunteer”?? What is that? You write in support of others? Terrebonne Parish, where my parents lived at the time of their death, and where many family members still live, is NOT in Southwest Louisiana. It is located in SouthEAST Louisiana. And the reason they received so little help? They are NOT NEW ORLEANS who the Democrats count on each election, that has keep the DEMS in power for 130 of the 143 years since the end of the Civil War! For 130 years there has been a DEM Gov and DEM LEGISLATURE. For 143 years there has been, and still is, a DEM LEGISLATURE. Additionally, Congress is DEM now, so they have the power to help and did not. Just like in RITA, and now IKE, the REAL SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA is left to fend for itself…..of course that includes SOUTHEAST TEXAS as well. I live in Lake Charles. While we in SW Louisiana appreciate your VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERISM, please get your geography correct. SO, IF YOU LIKE THE WAY LOUISIANA RANKS IN ANY/ALL CATEGORIES AGAINST THE OTHER 49 STATES, MAKE SURE OBAMA GETS ELECTED SO YOU CONTROL CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENCY….LOUISIANA HAS HAD IT FOR 130 YEARS, SO WE KNOW OF WHAT WE SPEAK…..

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