Best Of Humanity On Display In Wake Of Ida

Volunteers from New Sharon Fire and Biloxi, Mississippi work to remove a tree from a home in Louisiana.

Volunteers from New Sharon Fire and Biloxi, Mississippi work to remove a tree from a home in Louisiana.

Livingston, LA – The best of humanity was on display in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Anna Cockerham was taking refuge in a shelter in the town of Livingston after Ida pushed a power pole into her rental home. Lightning then struck the wires, which then started a fire.

Cockerham then had to decide how to extinguish the fire since there was no cell service to contact 911. So at four in the morning, she braved the hurricane and went to her neighbor’s house for a fire extinguisher. She eventually got the flames under control, but not before significant damage was done to her home. “It was a scary moment.”

Surviving the storm and the rush for necessities left an impression on Cockerham. When the storm first hit, “people have been going crazy over gas.”

Lines extended for blocks, and tempers flared, “they had some people that you know, got shot.”

“I’m glad I wasn’t there when those shootings happened,” added Cockerham.

Alyssa Macaluso helped volunteers by doing laundry, or helping to round up meals for the volunteers arriving from around the country.

Alyssa Macaluso helped volunteers by doing laundry, or helping to round up meals for the volunteers arriving from around the country.

Alyssa Macaluso sat at her front door and watched the fury of Mother Nature as Ida tore its way through Livingston.

“It was terrifying,” says Macaluso of the storm. “I never went to sleep. I was up during the whole storm, waiting for a tree to snap. “Watching the wind go from left to right in a split second was pretty crazy.”

Those trees could be heard cracking and snapping, but she and her family had no damage from the storm.

Her father had five trees down on his property, one of them hitting a corner of the house.

It took over ten days to restore power, and things like the internet or cable television were even more scarce.

Anna Cockerham is a single mom of two children, working at a local hospital and searching for a new place for herself and her children. A problematic process before the storm, but in the wake of Ida, is proving nearly impossible.

This was her first major storm, and she wants to continue calling Livingston Parish home because of the school system and the general area. “It’s a good environment. It’s very country, and they have nice people around here that come together in times like this. What these people are doing here is truly amazing.”

Alyssa Macaluso now spends her time helping out at the local shelter. “I was tired of being in the house.”

Macaluso tries to give back to the people who left their families to help her community get back to normal.

“If we weren’t to step up and help them, who would?” So says Macaluso of the linemen that were sleeping in their trucks and occasionally at the local shelter.

She helped out by doing laundry for the workers and lining up meals. “They’re getting off of work after dark, and places are closed.”

TJ LeMay opened up his business to allow volunteers a space to sleep in air conditioning.

TJ LeMay opened up his business to allow volunteers a space to sleep in air conditioning.

TJ LeMay is a police officer that was on duty during the storm and the following 48 hours afterward.

He clocked a piece of debris flying by at 122 mph, and the trees began to fall. It was dark, so visibility was limited by the dark, but he could hear the devastation taking place. “I watched one of the buildings come off, piece by piece.”

Ordered to hunker down during the worst of it, LeMay parked in the middle of an intersection for about three hours. Then about 3 am, “it calmed down, and we started cutting trees.”

“At one point, there were 92 calls holding,” explained LeMay.

LeMay is also a small business owner who saw a need to help make space available for work crews flooding the area in the recovery effort.

LeMay used his knowledge of previous weather events and worked during those times. He observed crews sleeping in their trucks and getting kicked out of parking lots.

New Sharon Fire parked out in front of West End Hose Co. No. 3 in Biloxi, Mississippi loading supplies to take into Louisiana.

New Sharon Fire parked out in front of West End Hose Co. No. 3 in Biloxi, Mississippi loading supplies to take into Louisiana.

His own business, a vehicle detailing business, is housed in a large metal building, which had just gotten power back.

He then turned those garage bays into a space where volunteers could sleep with air conditioning, with the space hosting 90 individuals on Friday night alone.

“When it comes to volunteers like New Sharon Fire and Biloxi coming to help, it was greatly appreciated,” said LeMay. Assisting the Sheriff and the deputies didn’t go without recognition. “I’ve gotten thank-you texts all day for these guys.”

LeMay said they helped officers and deputies who couldn’t care for their own homes because they were still working. “Everybody is greatly appreciative. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”

“We couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help,” added LeMay in closing.

Cockerham added, “it’s amazing how many people are coming together to help us in Louisiana.”

“It’s just truly amazing,” said Cockerham of the people coming to help.

“We appreciate them so much. Without them coming to help, it would take so much longer for everybody here to get back up and able to live a normal life,” added Macaluso.

David Letourneau seen here climbing out of his skid-steer while helping New Sharon Fire and other volunteers clean up yards.

David Letourneau seen here climbing out of his skid-steer while helping New Sharon Fire and other volunteers clean up yards.

David Letourneau does demolition and land clearing in Florida and was in the Livingston area when New Sharon Fire and Biloxi and Keesler AFB volunteers arrived.

He’s a small businessman who was bidding on jobs to remove trees and other debris from properties.

“I got here kind of late,” says Letourneau. “This is the first time that I tried to come in and make money after a storm like this.”

“It was extremely tough to get a job because everybody had been blanketed two or three times already. So I figured, I’ve already spent the money to get here, I have to spend the money to get back home. It doesn’t cost me anything to stay here, so I might as well help you guys out for nothing,” added Letourneau of his decision to help New Sharon Fire and that group clear first responder properties.

Letourneau estimates that the work done by the volunteers to help their fellow first responders could be ten thousand or more per property. “We had eight guys on the ground in two skid steers running all day long.”

Joe Boney (left) and Steve Gerard (middle) speak with a homeowner who had been impacted by the storm.

Joe Boney (left) and Steve Gerard (middle) speak with a homeowner who had been impacted by the storm.

On the group of volunteers coming down to help, “They’re not here to gain anything. They’re here to do nothing but help.”

When it comes to supporting groups like New Sharon Fire and West End Hose Company from Biloxi so they can continue their work, Letourneau says it’s most definitely a good thing.

He spoke about the different retired first responders and their family members the group helped, including the widow of a sheriff’s deputy who had recently passed away from COVID-19.

“You know, in the community, it’s not like it used to be. The whole country 150 years ago, it used to be where you help your neighbor. It’s not that way. These guys come in and become the neighbors that they don’t have that are here to do nothing but help,” said Letourneau in closing.

Posted by on Sep 15 2021. Filed under Local News, National News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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