St. Charles Parish mobilizes help for flood victims

St. Charles Parish volunteers and organization quickly started mobilizing efforts to assist victims Monday when word spread of Louisiana’s record flood waters leaving thousands of people and their pets without a home, food and even water.

St. Charles Parish and the United Way of St. Charles started a drive at Edward A. Dufresne Community Center, 274 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway in Luling and the Allen Arterbury Building at 14564 River Road in New Sarpy. The drive continues through tomorrow (Friday).

Some collections will end tomorrow, but others say they will continue drives until the water recedes.

At St. Gertrude Catholic Church’s Youth Ministry in Des Allemands, Anita Matherne said she and her husband, Terry, decided Sunday to organize a drive and used social media to get the word out. By Monday, donations were already coming in.

“I think it’s our Christian duty,” said Matherne, who fought back tears talking about the victims. “It could have been us. We’ve just been blessed and it’s our call to help each other.”

Matherne recalled how their Des Allemands home flooded shortly before Hurricane Katrina.

“We had only 4 inches of water, but I know what kind of hassle that is,” she said. “You have to move out of your home, pull up flooring and remove walls. There is so much that upsets the norm of life.”

As an adult leader with her church, Matherne said she also considered it important to teach their children about service by setting the example for them.

At St. Anthony Catholic Church in Luling, people were already walking in the door with donations, too.

Kevin Markey of Boutte was handing over two bags of clothing to Deacon Mike Fabre, who is handling the drive. He eagerly accepted the donation.

St. Mark Catholic Church in Ama had also just called asking if the two churches could team up to collect and deliver donations.

In just the two hours since they started collecting at the church, the bags of clothing and other items, as well as bottles of water, were stacking up in a storage room at the church.

“As Christians, that is what we’re called to do – to come to the aid of our neighbors,” Fabre said. “Everyone wants to help. This is a way for them to be involved and do their part.”

The drive will continue through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church’s community building. All items will be delivered to Baton Rouge.

Angels Among Us Daycare in Luling also started collecting donations for flood victims early Monday. They also witnessed a response met by a community eager to help.

With little notice, Daycare Director Stacy Engel said they had already filled two truckbeds with clothes, water and food.

On arrival at Baton Rouge shelters Monday, Daycare owner Rose Orgeron reported during their first drop-off that the list of needed items was “insane.”

Des Allemands couple, Frank and Glenda Breaux, were busy gathering donations and filling a trailer loaned to them by John Picciola of Picciola Construction in Cut Off. They also got an ice chest of meat donated by Johnny Callais, also of Cut Off.

The couple, along with their son, Shane, and co-worker Kevin Vassmer, were fast filling the trailer.

A native of Livingston Parish, Glenda Breaux was eager to deliver the fast growing donations to their daughter and her church there, particularly after getting a text from her that they were running out of food.

“The little people in the woods have nothing,” she said. “That’s where we’re going – straight to the people.”

They weren’t just ready to cook for flood victims, but were fast collecting everything from dog food to cleaning supplies and clothing to take there, too.

“We want to fill up this trailer,” Glenda said.

And they were well on their way to doing it after using cash donations to buy supplies at Sam’s Club.

Rescued pets weren’t forgotten either by St. Charles Parish.

At St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter, the doors weren’t open long Monday morning when a woman donated a kennel to assist animals rescued from floodwaters in the Baton Rouge area. They also have been accepting donations such as cat and dog food, litter, litter boxes or pans.

“It’s a huge coordinated effort,” Animal Control Supervisor Jena Troxler said of hundreds of animals rescued from the flood and housed until they’re returned to owners.

Troxler said they also are accepting prepaid VISA cards on behalf of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team, which is over seeing statewide assistance to rescued animals.

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is serving as the base for housing rescued pets, which she said is an optimal location for reuniting them with their owners. Troxler said they plan on providing kennels toward this effort and they have many that were donated for Hurricane Katrina.

Troxler said this should also focus attention on micro-chipping animals, which helps reunite them with owners.

Jackie Boudreaux, president of the St. Charles Humane Society, said she and her daughter, Ongelle, delivered old newspapers to the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter to help with the rescued 21 dogs and numerous cats housed at the shelter.

“The many days ahead will be difficult ones for many residents in the flood areas, but in some small way we are hoping our pet help will ease a bit of their worry and stress,” Boudreaux said. “It is being a good neighbor (parish to parish) that speaks for staying strong and knowing we are all here to help with saving both human and animal lives.”

The Humane Society also provided pet supplies and cleaning supplies for the rescued animals in Lafourche Parish.

“It all seems so surreal and a grim reminder of what it was like for New Orleans and the surrounding areas [our parish included] during the days to follow after Hurricane Katrina had hit,” Boudreaux said. “While we do understand the priority in rescuing, the animal lovers see rescue of both humans and animals equally as important.”


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