Written By Kim Walker
THERE ARE MOMENTS in life when pride in your community and the human race as a whole can be overwhelming. After a 100-year flood hit our community in March, we were hit again with a 500-year flood in August. A double whammy! Many of our Tangipahoa Parish families have suffered a tragic loss not once, but twice this year.
But, we are people with souls and hearts who immediately picked up the pieces and got to work. Neighbors helping neighbors became a central theme throughout the recent flooding. It is truly a remarkable thing to see when people do the exact thing that God called us to do—love others as ourselves. Immediately our city and parish leaders joined in with citizens and got dirty helping one another in any way possible. I remember my dear friend and city councilman Mike Williams filling sandbags and delivering them right alongside our City of Hammond Mayor Pete Panepinto. That was the same story throughout Tangipahoa Parish as my close friend and Parish President Robby Miller and the entire #TeamTangipahoa team jumped to get people what they needed. My pride for our community was and is very strong!
The City of Hammond operated a shelter at the Michael J. Kenney Center and at the peak provided shelter for 425 people. There was a tremendous outpouring of support from local volunteers and donations day after day as survivors needed transportation to medical appointments, clothes washed, critical supplies and hot cooked food. Volunteers showed up to use their talents playing music to sooth depressed spirits. Once the shelter was closed, remaining flood survivors were placed in housing while coordinated efforts with Good Shepherd Ministry of Tickfaw provided needed items such as beds, linens and dishes. The United Way of Tangipahoa provided cleaning supplies for each family as they were placed in housing.
While groups of people like the Cajun Navy didn’t wait to do what needed to be done, the same can be said of so many other groups of community members across our amazing community. Everywhere you looked you could find someone doing something. When my parents-in-law needed rescuing, friends and strangers offered help. We had multiple people working to help us get them to safety. No matter what you had, no matter what your talents were or physical limitations there was always something that could be done to help. A hug. A prayer. It didn’t matter and it was received graciously. That’s who we are and that’s what we do. Love people right where they are.
Churches, service organizations and citizens came and continue to come together to love and help one another. I’m so proud of my church, The Mission Church, for stepping up immediately to do what needed to be done. It was a beautiful thing to witness! Remember as we continue, to be patient with others. Offer kindness, a smile or a hug. You never know what people are going through. They might be a person who has lost their home—twice, in one year. Speak life, share love and this world will be a much better place!
Today our community is in full recovery mode, businesses fared well, homes are being rebuilt and life is beginning to move forward again.
For those who are still in need, there are resources available to you. Individuals needing disaster assistance, visit DisasterAssistance.gov. Anyone needing help with gutting homes can visit CrisisCleanup.org, and businesses needing financial help in recovery please visit lsbdc.org/slu/. An additional site listing many resources can be found at IAmTangi.com