It all started when Billie Jo Mitchell came back to her Luling home on Sept. 1 and saw that some of the food in her freezer was still good.
“My husband Terrence and myself set up a kitchen outside and started cooking,” Mitchell said. “We gave plates away in the neighborhood and then I posted on Facebook asking if anyone needed a hot meal.”
Jessica Sadiku, one of Mitchell’s friends, saw the post and asked if she could give Mitchell a break from cooking and bring food from La Vita Bella, her Long Beach, Miss. restaurant, to St. Charles Parish.
“Jessica had been through Hurricane Katrina on the coast of Mississippi and knew how it felt and just wanted to help,” Mitchell said.
Sadiku said she followed Hurricane Ida very closely.
“I really thought it was going to come to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where I’m from and where I live and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh … this is like watching Hurricane Katrina from when I was 18 years old,” she said. “Once Ida passed through Louisiana, I watched news stations out of New Orleans. What I felt when I saw the devastation of Louisiana was the same feeling I had when Katrina hit my hometown. I just remember the hundreds maybe even thousands of volunteers that helped us. I wanted to do the same thing – help those in need.”
Mitchell contacted the parish EOC and asked them connect her with someone who could help her get the hot meals to more people.
“I was connected to Rev. Gordon Taylor of St Matthews Baptist Church in New Sarpy and by the very next day Jessica was here with hot food and with the help of Rev Taylor we fed more than 100 people,” Mitchell said.
Sadiku and her husband drove down two trays of lasagna, two trays of chicken parmesan, two trays of chicken alfredo, two trays of spaghetti and meatballs, two trays of tortellini and two trays of garlic bread knots.
“I drove two hours to Destrehan with all of the trays of food in my trunk,” Sadiku said. “It was devastating to see homes destroyed, families misplaced, furniture tossed on the curb, mobile homes flipped upside down and on their sides. It was a flashback for me. I’m glad I could be there for them … I’m grateful we could help out.”
Taylor, an associate minister at the St. Matthew, said he, Mitchell and the Sadikus were joined by Tracy Mims Peterson, Pastor Jimmie Gooden and Reverend Jeff Patterson in serving the meals.
“Everyone was very appreciative to get a delicious meal,” he said, adding the United Way of St. Charles delivered 65 boxes of goods and supplies donated by Churches ️ of Christ from the state of Tennessee. “We are very appreciative of the blessing, love, support and teamwork by everyone who put smiles on our faces.”