Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter welcomes Gov. John Bel Edwards to the area before giving him a tour of Hurricane Laura’s destruction on the city.

BATON ROUGE — Good news may be hard to find for many residents of Southwest Louisiana following the widespread devastation caused Thursday, Aug. 27, by Hurricane Laura. However, it exists and it is fairly widespread.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter gave a special thanks to New Orleans and Baton Rouge officials at a recent Calcasieu Parish Executive Policy Group briefing. He said they have been so helpful and cooperative.
Organizations that have been extremely effective in rendering many services to victims of the storm include the Louisiana National Guard, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, United Way of Southwest Louisiana, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, FEMA, church groups and all law enforcement organizations in the hard-hit areas.
Amber Donnes, a former McNeese State University basketball player, is rounding up former teammates who plan to be in the Lake Charles area this coming weekend, helping clean up yards and doing other volunteer work. Donnes is the newly appointed assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Brooks Donald Williams, the head coach, is the former coach of the McNeese Cowgirls basketball team.
Lake Charles City Judge Jamie Bice noted on Facebook that officials with the LSU football program asked how they could help and an 18-wheeler loaded with donations arrived at McNeese State University. Football officials at McNeese are helping coordinate the disbursement of those donations.
Public officials have come through in parishes, cities and towns throughout the storm-damaged areas. 
We can’t say enough about how exciting it was for those of us who lost power to hear about the 17,000 electrical workers from 29 states that are helping Entergy restore a power system that took a serious blow from Hurricane Laura.
Now, let’s talk about some individuals who have performed above and beyond the call of duty.
Edith Pavy Beam, my daughter-in-law and Bryan’s wife, Andrew Beam, my grandson, and I stayed in a Baton Rouge hotel for three days. Then, a network of Edith’s friends, most who have connections as classmates at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, came through like champs.
As our luck would have it, Edith got a call from Jane O’Brien about a mostly unfurnished apartment that was available in a Lafayette complex. Kaitlyn O’Brien, Jane’s daughter, had been living there but moved into a home.
A sleeper sofa, dining room table and chairs, chest of drawers, TV set and nightstand were the major items left in the apartment. No problem there because Jane had two air mattresses with automatic inflators that were used in two bedrooms. She also gave us bathroom towels and related essentials.
Others came through with virtually everything else we needed. They included Julie and Rex Edwards, Joyce Prince, Lydia and Chook Cloninger, Edith’s sister Camille and her husband, Bill Claibourne, and her brother, Francis and Cathi Pavy.
We enjoyed a great pizza dinner with the Edwards, and Joyce delivered a sumptuous meatball and spaghetti dinner.
All of these Lafayette stalwarts have stayed connected for many years. They have made our survival during one of life’s most challenging times as livable as you can be following the most disastrous storm to hit Louisiana in the last 150 years.
Gary Meek, my ex-son-in-law, with a little help from me, installed tarpaulins at our three family homes after Hurricane Rita in 2005. Gary came through for me again after Laura, single-handedly installing tarps on my home on two occasions. Protection from heavy rains is a tremendous time and money saver.
Jamie, my daughter, and her husband Joe were in Florida until after Laura hit, and are now living in hotels. They are repairing heavy damage at their home.
Bryan, my son, is Calcasieu Parish administrator, and he has been on duty in Lake Charles before the storm hit our shores. As you might expect, I am extremely proud of Bryan and the other public officials who have given us perhaps the best performances of their lives, all for our benefit.
Jessica, my granddaughter, and Aurora, my great-granddaughter, are staying with the sister of Jessica’s husband, Adam, in The Woodlands in Texas. Adam is doing restoration work in the Sulphur area.
Living out of suitcases is never easy, and especially when it is required for weeks. All of our family homes have received serious damages, and we are anxiously awaiting a return home when electric power and water services are restored.
Our hurricane follow-up story isn’t unique. Many others have benefited from friends, family and neighbors, and there has been much good news to talk about.
Let me wrap this up with some final words about Edith, who is a great planner and organizer. Bless her and her Lafayette friends and my family and friends who have been a big help for this 86-year-old widower, who really misses his wife Jo Ann during this trying time.


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