Sitting here in Nichole's cozy apartment, I'm currently working on some library science reading and watching college football, and things feel almost normal for a Saturday night in the fall. As soon as I drive down the street though, there are giant trees down on either side of Highland Road, and I'm reminded of just how not-normal things are around here.
Earlier Nichole and I went out to grab some dinner and ran by my apartment to see if I had power yet. No luck. However, it was quite ironic and funny that we ran into Red Cross passing out meals in my apartment complex. I guess that means I'm officially a disaster victim. Haha.
What's ironic is that just yesterday I was out on a trip on a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (fondly called an "ERV") helping pass out meals myself...in the middle of the swamp. I left Istrouma with two ladies from Bloomington, IL and attempted to navigate them across the River and into Iberville Parish. (Like a Mississippi girl knows how to find her way through the bayou! Riiight.) After an hour and a half, we traveled over and under power lines and downed trees and reached our destination - Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana. To give you an idea of just how remote this place is, check out the Google map. Let me just say...that place is bad off. They probably won't get power for another three or four weeks, and they're at least 30 miles of curvy, tree-filled roads away from a Walmart or Shell. It made me feel really grateful for what I have right now.
The whole experience was just such a blessing. Sondra and Jan and I pulled up to the fire department and saw no one around. We had tons of food and were worried that we'd have no one to feed since they didn't know we were coming. Never fear! All I had to do was go up to two houses, knock on their doors, and offer them chili, and the word began to spread. We ended up giving out about 250 meals in that itty bitty town, and I loved every second of it. Those people out there have some big hearts, some awesome Cajun accents, and some strong nerves. I definitely admire them for their courage and good attitudes.
I'm also very grateful to Sondra and Jan, the Red Cross ladies, for taking such good care of me. Maybe I should explain. See...I tend to get motion sickness sometimes, and riding home in the back of the ERV facing sideways and not being able to see the road sure did the trick. I never actually threw up, but I felt nauseous the whole way home almost and had to stop twice. Bless those ladies for being so patient with me. They just sat with me and rubbed my back and put a cold rag on my forehead. I felt like such a pansy! Haha. Even with the nausea, it was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening day. I'm planning on going back tomorrow (Sunday) and pass out some more meals. Even the mention of Red Cross tends to get a few grimaces from Louisianians, but I have to say that I have a whole new appreciation for that organization now. It may not be perfect, but I'm not so sure any other organization would send relief to back-woods swampy Louisiana like that.
Good night from broken but beautiful Baton Rouge where we're all praying Ike away.
YALSA Local Arrangements BFYA Feedback Session
7 hours ago