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.