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Ascension Parish community continues aid to storm-ravaged areas

Michael Tortorich

During the second week of Louisiana’s recovery from Hurricane Laura, the outpouring of support from Ascension Parish residents continued.

A crew from Ascension Fire District 1 in Geismar prepared 200 fried catfish dinners Sept. 4 for the first responders at Westlake Fire Department. The Geismar firefighters who traveled to the area for the dinner were, from left; Captain Moe Scott, firefighter Ryan Jones, Lieutenant Arrington Beasley, and Fire Chief Nat Stephens.

Swaths of the state from the southwestern portion through the north have begun the long road to recovery from the Category 4 storm, which made landfall Aug. 27 in the Lake Charles area.

Through the Labor Day weekend, a myriad of local groups went to damaged areas and sent donations to those in need.

Volunteer Ascension has been rallying agencies and volunteers together since the beginning of the disaster to deliver supplies to Lake Charles and Sulphur.

“Ascension Parish, when someone is in need, you show up!” exclaimed a Facebook post on the group’s page.

Cameron Parish’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness posted a photo showing several boxes of relief supplies left by the Ascension volunteers.

Businesses, political candidates, elected officials, religious organizations, and school groups and sports teams have been among those to chip in. Social media pages have been filled with photos and videos of loaded trucks and trailers headed west, as well as groups working at ground zero of the recovery.

The Wendy’s restaurant and the Capital One building in Lake Charles sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Laura.

Johnathan Henriques with Gonzales-based Rescue Alliance has been focusing on providing food for pets in Cameron Parish. He said pet owners in the area have been in desperate need of help, supplies, and assistance.

Henriques said he worked with Cameron Sheriff Ronnie Johnson to set up a pet food-giveaway at Grand Lake High School.

Colby and Rhea Nickens, who run Oak Grove Nutrition in Prairieville, have been among the business owners to give back to the communities in need.

They teamed up with James Burnham, a State Farm insurance agent, in the community of Moss Bluff. The area is north of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish. 

Over the weekend, they served pastalaya and hamburgers at the location. The couple plans to make weekly trips to the area. 

Ascension Catholic Diocesean Regional School collected donations through Sept. 4 for St. Louis Catholic School in Lake Charles, which was devastated by the hurricane.

Parish Catholic churches including Ascension of Our Lord in Donaldsonville, St. John in Prairieville, St. Theresa in Gonzales, and Holy Rosary in St. Amant are collecting donations for relief efforts.

One bright spot over the weekend was Entergy’s announcement that just over week after landfall, the first lights were turned back on in the communities of Toomey and Starks, which are located near the Louisiana-Texas line.