Last Modified: Sunday, September 02, 2012 7:02 PM
The city of Sulphur is conducting a supply drive for people affected by Hurricane Isaac, Mayor Chris Duncan said Friday.
Councilman Stuart Moss said the idea to hold the drive came while he and former Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie and his wife, Rachel, sat in Duncan’s office.
“There is a need, and we in Southwest Louisiana dodged a bullet,” he said. “We need to help southeast Louisiana rebuild. This is something that Southwest Louisiana does; this is something that the city of Sulphur does.”
Items collected in the drive will be sent to Plaquemines Parish, one of the areas most affected by the storm.
With the threat of Isaac looming over Southwest Louisiana at the beginning of the week, many residents stocked up on supplies. Duncan is asking residents to donate those unused supplies to the effort.
“If you don’t need those supplies, come by and drop them off,” he said. “This is an effort not only for Sulphur but for all of Southwest Louisiana to get behind.”
Mike and Rachel McKenzie, who is from Lake Charles, evacuated to the area to seek refuge from the storm.
“This is a situation where we have been here before, as far as the whole Gulf Coast, and we understand what type of efforts it takes,” Mike said. “A lot of families can’t even think about recovery because they’re still faced with having water up to the roof of their houses.
“When you have lost everything and you need a place of refuge, anything will help.”
Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president, talked to the McKenzies, Duncan and Moss via speakerphone Friday and said that about 800 people lost their homes and everything they had as a result of the storm.
“So many people came with just the shirt on their back ... not many people were expecting this because it was a Category 1,” he said.
Nungesser expressed his gratitude for Southwest Louisiana’s effort.
“I look forward to coming over there and shaking your hand and giving you guys a big hug,” he told Duncan. “This is something wonderful, for our parish to have so much support from you guys. We really do appreciate it. We really thank you.”
Moss said he is close friends with Nungesser and has remained in contact with him since the storm roared through Plaquemines Parish.
“Billy personally lost his home during the storm. He said it was worse than Hurricane Katrina,” Moss said. “A wall on his house was moved in a foot, a solid brick wall. A few hours later, his roof was gone. He is concentrating on his residents, but he is personally suffering at the same time.”
Mike McKenzie said so many people are suffering because so many stayed behind. He said he looks forward to seeing the faces of the people whom Southwest Louisiana will be able to provide for.
“This isn’t going to change anything that happened,” he said. “But it’s comforting for them to know that when they needed it most, this community was there to assist in the process.”
The Sulphur Fire Department has set up a trailer and is using the former Old Tyme Variety Store, 810 Ruth St., at the corner of Cypress, as a drop-off point.
It will accept donations of any kind — including money — and is asking for baby supplies, first aid kits, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, bottled water, clothes and shoes of all sizes, blankets and pillows, dinnerware, and personal hygiene products.
Officials will accept donations 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
Monetary donations will also be accepted at City Hall, 101 N. Huntington St.
“Anything you think of that you use on a daily basis, you can drop it off. People have lost everything,” Duncan said. “We need the help of everyone; now let’s fill the trailer up.”
Local American Red Cross board chairman Brian Burton said residents can also donate money at his group’s office at 3612 Kirkman St. in Lake Charles.
By the time Duncan had finished with his 30-minute briefing on the supply drive, residents and businesses had already sent him text messages pledging to donate $1,750.
Online: www.sulphur.org; www.swla-redcross.org.