Many times I have stated that I wish “they’d put me in charge.” This past Friday night was not one of those times. As Governor Jindal declared a state of emergency in preparation for the expected flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, he was also authorizing the use of National Guard helicopters to help combat the marsh fire in New Orleans and the wildfire in Natchitoches, Red River and Bienville parishes. Only in Louisiana could you have an underground fire during a flood… in the same city.
Because of the severe drought that the northern part of the state has experienced since last summer, the fire danger sign is stuck on ‘Extreme.’ Add in some windy conditions (see tropical storm) and you have a recipe for disaster. Near the Ashland and Martin areas, trees went up like kindling. The wind blew embers from the treetops to the next stand, crossing roads. Thankfully, the fire was contained, but not without several families losing their homes.
I found out about the fire on Facebook. What a fantastic tool for community awareness. Somebody created a group about the fire, and within 30 minutes the information was pouring in. People voluteered their homes, offered to help move livestock– at 10 at night, no less. Now there is a new group or page on who needs help, what they need, and where to take it.
This willingness to help those in need makes me so proud of my little area of the world. I have seen it time and again. After Katrina, the faculty lounge looked like a uniform superstore. Parents bought new uniforms for people they didn’t even know. Local churches operated shelters for weeks. While Louisiana and Mississippi are two of the poorest states in the Union, they are also in the top three states for charitable giving. We may not be perfect, but we’re good people. We answer the call.
After 3 months, August is finally over. (This is Louisiana, sometimes our months have 30, 31, or 90 days in them, depending on who is doing the reporting.) TS Lee broke the back of the heat that has held us in its grip for the past 3 months and brought several inches of rain. My yard is green again and the LSU Tigers roasted some Ducks in Dallas. Looks like we made it… for now.