NATCHITOCHES – Students at Northwestern State University loaded a U-Haul truck last week bound for Cut Off, the Lafourche Parish community that suffered massive damage from Hurricane Ida last month. Students in Alpha Lambda Delta, Presidential Leadership Program, Greek Life, Baptist Collegiate Ministry and NSU Ambassadors participated in a massive effort to collect hurricane relief supplies specifically targeted for Cut Off, hometown of Zack Breaux, NSU’s assistant director of Marketing/Social Media.
“Cut Off and the Lafourche area, took a direct impact as it rode the east wall of the storm’s eye for nearly nine hours without a break, taking the brunt force of the storm’s record setting winds and rain,” Breaux said. “The town I call home walks away torn and battered, with little remaining of what once was. But what does stay tried and true are its people, the strength and heart of Cut Off, a town with little basic infrastructure to rebuild and is struggling. My people, the people of Louisiana needed help now more than ever.”
Reatha Cox, vice president for the Student Experience, said students reached out to local schools, businesses and organizations to gather items on a list of necessities provided by Breaux’s home church, Sacred Heart of Cut Off, the designated central distribution hub for the people of the South Lafourche community. Students collected nonperishable food, baby and personal care items, school supplies, pet supplies, paper goods, soap, sleeping bags, tents, extension cords, brooms, buckets, bleach, gloves and other items necessary to help with the massive cleanup in an area where power has yet to be restored and obtaining goods continues to be a challenge for residents.
“We got cases and cases of Damp Rid,” Cox said. “We covered everything.”
“Service shows itself in many different ways and the students, faculty and staff at Northwestern State felt a calling to help their fellow Louisianans,” Breaux said.
Kate Sullivan and Julie Terry, both of Vivian, secured large donations from their hometown. Sullivan approached Herndon Magnet School in Belcher where her mother works, which resulted in a school-wide drive. Terry’s home church, Trees Baptist Church in Vivian, donated $500.
“As soon as I heard the need, I called my youth pastor to see if they had already done something to help the Hurricane Ida survivors,” Terry said. “They had not, and they were more than happy to directly donate $500 the same day. Kate reached out to her mother’s school for donations, and they helped so much. We made a few trips to town and our cars were packed completely full. It was amazing to see the community come together to help one another.”
Breaux and other volunteers drove the truckload of supplies to Cut Off Thursday where they were met by more volunteers at Sacred Heart who help unload, sort and organize the items for distribution.
“When you walk in, it is amazing the operation they have going on,” Breaux aid. “There are supplies filling the room from front to back. As our supply truck from Northwestern State arrived we had plenty of support waiting to greet us. This is an all hands son deck operation with volunteers working from morning till evening sifting and sorting through supplies.”
Breaux said people from Lake Charles, Houma and Thibodaux also aided in relief efforts by setting up food services for drive up meal distribution at the church with catering companies, restaurants and individuals preparing hot plates lunches
“It’s amazing what a little bit of heart and Cajun ingenuity can do,” Breaux said. “The community of Cut Off and South Lafourche are made up of resilient people. They have all been in survival mode since the storm’s passing and finding any way to help. It is a true testament to the heart and soul of my people. Although I’m a Demon, I’m a South Lafourche Tarpon first and my heart goes out to my people. I have faith and trust that we will be back, and we will rebuild stronger. ‘Tant que Je peaux’ is French for ‘all that you can’ and the moto of South Lafourche High School. It’s the last line of my high school’s alma mater: ‘We face this task you give us, through triumph and defeat. O South Lafourche to the we pledge our loyalty.’”