Calcasieu, Vermilion, Iberia and Lafayette
Cajun Nation volunteers continue
Surrounded by TV cameras while surveying the damage in Zachary after the Great Flood of 2016, President Barack Obama promised a sustained national effort to rebuild the ravaged region “even after the cameras leave.” By the time he landed in Louisiana on Aug. 23, Obama designated $127 million in federal aid for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and flood insurance. The funding continues with growing demand. While $20 million was distributed to individuals by the Obama administration at the time of his visit, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited Baton Rouge on Aug. 19, attracting the media while handing out donated supplies. Beyond the political sound-bites, national media coverage has largely been devoted to crediting prominent relief organizations and celebrities such as Taylor Swift for her $1 million donation and Louisiana native Britney Spears for raffling off her MTV Music Video Awards concert threads, airline and show tickets and autographed albums.
Hardly enough ink has been spilled on the countless unsung heroes who are still helping strangers in other cities with the sole purpose of paying it forward. Preferring anonymity to reflect the “storm with no name,” they’ve emptied their wallets, cooked vats of gumbo and fought muddy waters to rescue panicked victims. They continue the hard volunteer work of gutting and rebuilding the homes of others. The “Cajun Navy’s” informal flotilla of boats and the “Cajun Army’s” “boots on the ground, folks without boats” saved thousands who fell through the cracks (they went undiscovered by the National Guard, since some obscure rural roads weren’t on the master list). Dozens of unofficial Cajun pop-up groups were also driven by cries for help on social media. Acadiana Profile followed some of these amazing volunteers for 10 days through the deluge in Abbeville, Lafayette, Youngsville, Breaux Bridge, Broussard and New Iberia. There were carloads of high school students who drove from Lake Charles to Abbeville to remove debris at strangers’ homes along the bayou, college kids from New York University who flew in to gut houses around Lafayette, plus church groups and sports teams offering help around New Iberia. Dozens of film industry volunteers from I.A.T.S.E. local 478, organized by two union sculptors, are repeatedly caravanning from New Orleans to the Baton Rouge area as well as various Acadiana towns with carloads of supplies, tools and construction crews. It may take more time in some cases, but hope floats in the Cajun Nation. (General volunteer info, call 211 or 337-232-4357).
Savings on Gas: There’s an app for that
You can now find additional ways to save at the pump. In partnership with Chevron, Albertson’s follows the trend of some of its competitors by launching a gas rewards program where shoppers can redeem up to 20 cents per gallon at participating Chevron and Texaco stations. Shoppers can enroll by downloading the just for U app. Once registered, you earn a point for every dollar spent on participating items. Points are redeemable at the pump (albertsons.com).
Bell’s Sporting Goods (4313 Johnston St., 337-981-5330) is celebrating its 70th anniversary in October with an array of themed sales. “My dad was an athlete in college,” said owner David Bell. “He opened our first, one-aisle, 600-square-foot store in 1946.” The sprawling store, popular with sports teams and local students, sells sports equipment, commercial and residential fitness equipment and custom-designed team uniforms. There are 2,700 square feet of equipment on display in the fitness store, plus a large selection of sports shoes, clothing and ULL merchandise.
Flood Recovery Health Tips
After the waters recede, there may be an increased risk for the Zika virus in south Louisiana, according to tropical medicine physicians (the FDA now recommends testing blood donations for the virus). Louisiana Medicaid announced it will cover EPA-approved mosquito repellents (containing DEET or Picaridin) for pregnant women and for those actively planning to conceive. Also, UnitedHealth and Optum is offering free emotional support and referral services to anyone affected by the recent flood. You do not have to be covered by a UnitedHealthcare plan for the free service. The toll-free number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary.
Honoring through Art
Moncus Park at the Horse Farm announced a new monument depicting the late UL professor Griff Blakewood, who was the leader in the Save the Horse Farm movement. “This is the first grand park in Lafayette that’s managed by a nonprofit entity,” said Elizabeth “E.B.” Brooks, executive director of Lafayette Central Park, Inc., regarding the public-private partnership. “We’re really excited about all the ways the park is going to be used in the future.” Lafayette Central Park, lafayettecentralpark.org