Story: A Sunday Clean-up in Madisonville

This story was written by Red Cross worker Judy DelSignore.

Today should have been a part of a leisurely fall weekend in Madisonville, La, but due to Hurricane Isaac there was little rest time for some residents of the town. Even under blue skies with a light breeze many were busy shoveling debris from out of their homes. On St. Ann Street the primary sound was that of scrappers removing flooring from residents’ homes. Piles of debris littered the street, with continuous trips from the house to the curb. Wheelbarrows full of sheetrock were a common sight. Many of the residents requested the help of local groups.

Groups of yellow shirts from the Southern Baptist Disaster teams and teams from the Church of Latter Day Saints were assisting the residents with debris removal. One resident said he was amazed by how quickly the group responded to his call for help this morning. Within 3 hours, a team of 20 volunteers had removed all the sheetrock from his one story home. Jim was so grateful for the assistance he had received from everyone. He said “it would have taken him days to complete the work they had done in just hours.” Jim had contributed to the Red Cross for years, he said, but never knew of all the services we provide. He said he never knew there were so many groups of volunteers ready and able to help.

A respite spot in Madisonville was at the parish house of St. Anselm’s Catholic Church. One could find there fellowship, hugs and a hot meal for anyone that stopped in. Tammy Morris, the in-charge person, was busy placing dinners in clamshell “to go” boxes that she was delivering to residents she had not yet seen today. She told me they had served over 3,400 meals in 10 days since the location opened after the storm had cleared the area. Tammy and Pastor Father Frank from the parish were greeting all who arrived and inviting them to have a hot meal. The Red Cross had stocked this location with hot meals and snacks.

Additionally, supplies such as mops, brooms, gloves, rakes and cleaning liquids (clean-up kits) and water were available for all who stopped by. One family having lunch with Their 5 children told me that they had no home to return to. The water had dislodged their home from the foundation and mold was everywhere in the house. It was not safe for them to return. Fortunately, they had been able to find another temporary location for the family, but Sue, the wife, said “it just isn’t home”. Sue and Steve had been able to secure their new home in the same school district and bus route that their children had used before the storm. They were grateful at least the children’s lives had not been totally interrupted. Steve told me they would be alright, but it would just take time. He is a man of faith and was sure “the lord would continue to watch over them”.

Steve said he was so grateful to the Red Cross for supplying them with the availability of a hot meal, clean-up kits and water for home. They left the parish house after dinner with some snacks for the children and many thank you’s for all who had assisted them.

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