Sheriffs, volunteers reach out to Houma after Ida

Staff Report

The trips out of town in late August and early September are becoming a bit too routine for Sheriff Brett Stassi and others across Louisiana.

Annie Bossier of Lottie and Glyn McNickens of Addis have made trips back and forth to Terrebonne Parish to help prepare food and bring hygiene items to first-responders and residents working in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

He and sheriffs from other parishes have stayed busy in the south Louisiana in efforts to help residents and fellow first-responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Stassi – now president of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association – was among the many who helped in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura one year ago.

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi is seen here with Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Slaughter, who has been at the helm of the recovery efforts in his home parish following Hurricane Ida.

“This one might be worse,” Stassi said. “There’s so much damage to homes here … it’s unbelievable.”

Rene Thibodeaux, sheriff in neighboring Pointe Coupee Parish, drove 70 miles south to Grand Isle to deliver lunches that same afternoon.

He said he had never seen damage that severe in his life.

“It removed the roofs off of homes, brought five and six feet in sand into other homes and wiped out so many structures along the way,” Thibodeaux said.

“I’ve gone there a lot over the years, and it’s hard to believe how much damage one storm could do.”

Sheriff Brett Stassi (second from left) and other sheriffs and volunteers have been at the helm of the recovery efforts for residents in Terrebonne and other parishes devastated by Hurricane Ida.

For Annie Bossier, of Lottie, and Glynn McKinnon, of Grosse Tete, the post-storm situation has had them on the road every evening to cook and serve food, as well as deliver hygiene items.

They’ve even collected laundry from electrical workers and washed it.

It all began as a Facebook post in which they sought donations for residents and workers in the area.

“We’ve been to Plaquemines Parish, St. Mary, Lafourche and now Terrebonne,” Bossier said.

“We had gotten notification from the Coast Guard last week that said they were hungry and wanted real food.”

Thousands of donated items line shelves in a storage area at the Terrebonne Parish Sheriffs Office in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

They now wash clothes and feed 50 linemen a day.

McKinnen gave a simple reason why she and Bossier got involved.

“If the storm wouldn’t have shifted, this could’ve been us,” she said, referring to damage throughout the area.

Many utility workers had to sleep in their trucks due to the lack of available hotel rooms.

In addition, they have helped round up donated hygiene items and nonperishable foods that sit along several aisles of shelves in a warehouse on Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office property.

It provided body wipes, pillows, lip moisturizers and other items to the crew workers.

“We’ve rounded up so much Boudreaux’s Butt Paste that it’s not even funny,” Bossier said.

They have collected donations and schools throughout the Westbank area have planned fundraising drives.

Bossier and McMickens had not met until their voluntary work began.

“We had been friends on Facebook, but we did not know each other until the week before last,” Bossier said.

McMickens works for the Louisiana Department of Revenue and owns an arts and crafts business, while Bossier recently finished cosmetology school and owns Bossier’s Jams and Jellies.

Bossier was supposed to work a farmer’s market in Grosse Tete, but she put those plans aside.

“I told them I couldn’t go,” she said. “These people need me here too badly.

“The amount of people here helping is amazing,” Bossier said. “One lady asked me to give her a grocery list so they can go shopping for us.”

It’s a great help for Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Slaughter, who is overseeing recovery in what he called the worst hurricane to hit his area since Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

“How the storm went on the southeastern end on the parish, it hit on the eastern eyewall here and the western eyewall swept the other part of the parish,” he said. “We caught wind and we were pounded for eight or nine hours straight.

“Some of the guys riding in their boats said it was 180 mph and they were constantly being pounded,” Slaughter said. “It was intense.”

The volunteers and Sheriff’s Office staff has helped keep things going, he said.

“We repurposed a lot of people during the storm, so we just shifted gears to keep things going,” he said. “Life must go on.”