Luling resident Ed Skiba and his family stayed for Hurricane Ida, and he said the experience will forever mark his as a person.
“It was pretty intense,” he said of sheltering for the storm. “I’m not going to lie.”
And although his family’s home suffered significant water damage in the storm – enough that he and his family are currently living between a camper in their driveway and their home – he said Hurricane Ida solidified one decision for him.
“We’re never leaving St. Charles Parish. After seeing the community and how people went from being completely stunned and running on adrenaline to immediately helping each other with no questions asked … that really solidified it for me … we’re never leaving,” Skiba said. “It’s been amazing to see people helping strangers. Tragedy always brings out the best of people. The bad really always brings out the best.”
Skiba is doing his part to spread light in a dark time for the community by handcrafting crosses from trees that were damaged during the storm.
“After Hurricane Zeta last year I got bored one day and just started to sculpt something with a chainsaw,” he said. “I made a couple of crosses and gave them to a couple friends, but those didn’t really have the same meaning as these this year.”
Skiba’s first cross after Hurricane Ida was gifted to a fellow Holy Family Church parishioner who Skiba met when he volunteered to help clean up his house and yard.
“There was just a huge tree that had gone through their house to the point where you could see light in every room,” Skiba said. “They were there with their kids during the storm, which made it more heartbreaking.”
Skiba said he decided to start picking up pieces of that tree that had destroyed the home.
“I was inspired to make a cross and return that piece … that cross … to the homeowner,” he said. “After that I started thinking that we as a family received a lot of help from other people and it inspired me to start thinking what can I do for them, so I started making more crosses.”
Skiba said he has made about 30 of the crosses, and that the reactions he gets when delivering them is varied, but always heartwarming.
“You get a stunned look and tears,” he said. “Everything is emotional these days. Some people have had a ‘thank you’ and some people have broken down. The whole point of it is to try to make people happy and show gratitude to others. That’s something we need to be cognizant of – we need to show each other the positive side of things and hope. We live in a great parish, and we have a great set of parish officials and we have great staff with our school and public works. There have been thousands of people helping us … that also gives me a lot of hope.”