SOUTHEAST TEXAS — While rescue and recovery efforts are underway in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida, here in Southeast Texas there’s a rapid response effort happening to help our neighbors in the hurricane-ravaged state.
Southeast Texans did not hesitate at all to open our doors to Louisiana evacuees seeking shelter from the storm, and some are even rushing to head into areas that Hurricane Ida hit the hardest to help.
They say they’re just returning the favor.
In 2017, Tropical Storm Harvey flooded the Orange Church of God with nearly 14 inches of water.
Pastor Demetrius Moffett never imagined the building would one day be able to house evacuees from another storm. The Red Cross partnered with the church to set up a shelter.
“Here at the Orange Church of God, we offer that safety, security and stability, so they can at least have some sense of calmness and relaxation until they can get home,” said Pastor Moffett.
There are 30 evacuees . The youngest is a four month old baby boy. Fifteen more are expected Tuesday.
Pastor Moffett says setting up this place so quickly would not have been possible without the entire community’s help.
“It has been non-stop, calls coming in ever since Sunday,” said Pastor Moffett. “As you see now, my phone is even ringing now, and I mean different agencies just calling Pastor Moffett, Pastor Demo, what do you need? How can we help?”
Orange District 3 Councilwoman Terrie Salter says the citizens of Orange didn’t hesitate to offer hospitality to their neighbors in need. It’s just returning the favor.
“We was hit really hard,” said Councilwoman Salter. “They had so many people come out and gave back to us, so it’s just the right thing to do, is just be there for our neighbors.”
Across the Neches in Beaumont, Frankie Randazzo, the owner of Madison’s and other Southeast Texas restaurants, is teaming up with Gary Saurage, the owner of Gator Country, to coordinate a rapid response relief effort.
“I’m very proud of Southeast Texas,” said Saurage. “We put out a fundraiser today, just today, and we’re over eight thousand in cash, and we have a trailer full of stuff already. Now that doesn’t mean it’s enough. We have a million people down there without power, so don’t think they have all they need. It’s not even close.”
Saurage, Randazzo and their group of Southeast Texas volunteers, are heading to ground zero and partnering with a church outside of Houma, Louisiana and The Salvation Army to mobilize a massive feeding effort.
“We’re going to prepare up to 4 to 5 hundred meals a day, starting in the front, and then try to ramp that up to 800 to a thousand meals a day,” said Randazzo.
Randazzo says seeking support from Southeast Texans has not been difficult. So many want to do their part.
“At this point, we’ve all been through this,” said Randazzo. “I don’t need to sell you on how bad it is. We’ve all been through it. They’re dealing with a Katrina, a Harvey and a Laura all at the same time, because they have a wind event, a water event, now power. It’s a mess over there.”
They won’t have to face it alone. Randazzo, Saurage and their team are waiting to get clearance from the Louisiana State Police and will head out either Tuesday or Wednesday.
They’ll continue to take donations at Madison’s on Dowlen, Gator Country and Rikenjaks in Vidor all this week.
Written by ANGEL SAN JUAN