Sights, Smells, and Sounds – My Day in Lake Charles

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It’s been a little over a week since I traveled to Lake Charles to volunteer with NECHAMA for Hurricane Laura clean up, but the sights, smells, and sounds still linger with me.

The Sights

Driving into the city, all around I could see the signs of a devastating hurricane – the most powerful to make landfall in Louisiana history. On every street I drove down, I saw family homes with serious structural damage, trees splintered down the middle, and roof tiles scattered everywhere. At the house our small crew worked on, I saw the strength of the neighbors who join forces with us to move the limbs and logs from the huge pecan tree that fell through their yard.

The Smells

On each haul of limbs from the backyard of the house to the front, there was a stench in the air of the spoiled food, molding drywall, and general dampness that lingers after a storm of that magnitude. On the positive side, there was the smell of freshly cut wood, PB & Js handed out by good Samaritans, and sweat from the hard work –  all signifying progress.

The Sounds

During the day there was a strange quiet with the power being out. I couldn’t hear the normal buzz of regular life like air conditioners and garage doors while I was working outside. Instead, those sounds were replaced by chainsaws chewing into fallen trees, dump trucks hauling away debris, and sirens of first responders. But the most heartening sounds were those of camaraderie between volunteers helping and the thankfulness of the residents who were so grateful for everyone who came to help.

I was happy that I was able to lend a hand to help those impacted by Hurricane Laura recover, but the reality is that it will take much more than my one day of volunteering. There is a long road ahead, and organizations like NECHAMA are equipped to do the necessary work. Donations will allow them to stay in Lake Charles longer and help more people. If you are able, please join me in making a meaningful donation to NECHAMA’s Hurricane Laura Response.

Unfortunately, another storm impacted our region today – Hurricane Sally. Today, I reached out to our camp family in the path of the storm to check in and offer aid. My thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected.