Ascension Parish residents send aid to storm-ravaged areas

Michael Tortorich
Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre and several deputies provided assistance in the Lake Charles area in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

After Hurricane Laura tore through parts of Louisiana, the Ascension Parish community stepped up to offer aid and support.

Among those were Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre and several deputies who headed to Calcasieu Parish last week as part of a coordinated effort to provide mutual aid in the southwestern area of the state.

“Three years ago to the day, APSO loaded up and headed west from the Training Center in Gonzales to San Jacinto County, Texas, to provide critical aid to the people of southeast Texas following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey,” the sheriff said in a social media post.

Webre and his deputies did not hesitate when they received the call for assistance following Hurricane Laura’s landfall in the Lake Charles area.

“We are Ascension strong and Louisiana proud,” Webre said.

The sheriff recorded a brief video message, which was posted to his department’s Facebook page.

“People in Ascension Parish have always risen to the occasion,” Webre said. “We will rise up and help not only our citizens, but our neighbors as well. We will help any way we can.”

The video concludes with a procession of several vehicles and trailers departing from the Training Center in Gonzales.

Included in the caravan was the mobile kitchen, which was built by the 2012 Leadership Ascension class. 

Since it was donated to the Sheriff’s Office, it has been deployed throughout Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, and Florida, according to the sheriff. Some 200 first responders are receiving hot meals each day from the mobile kitchen.

St. Amant Fire Chief and Constable James LeBlanc also shared a post showing Ascension residents lending a helping hand. 

“I’m very proud of what they accomplished and I know the City of Westlake was very pleased with their performance over the last several days,” LeBlanc said Sunday. 

He said members of the Gonzales, St. Amant, 5th Ward, and Galvez-Lake fire departments were among those assisting in clearing the streets in the Westlake area.

Additionally, Volunteer Ascension, parish Rotary Clubs, OHSEP, and parish government coordinated relief efforts.

The group called for enclosed trailers and a variety of items, including cleaning and personal care products. The collection of donated items was set for Sept. 2 through 4 at Lamar-Dixon barns 7 and 8.

Volunteer Ascension Director Sherry Denig said the collection was driven by the needs and the timing of the people in need of service. 

Just dumping supplies into the area would be the worst outcome, as those in need don’t have the resources to store, manage, and distribute the supplies, she added.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment said he fully supported the effort, and would do everything he could to ensure its success.

“The people of Houston and the Lake Charles areas were so generous to us after the 2016 Flood,” he said. “This represents another opportunity to return the favor to people in need.” 

The St. Amant High School community was among those collecting supplies for the relief effort. A drop-off was set for the school’s bus lane Sept. 2 from 4 to 6 pm.

Over the weekend, social media was filled with posts showing residents and local businesses chipping in to help in a variety of ways.