Thrift Store employees from Morgan City and Thibodaux, themselves impacted by Hurricane Ida, are serving neighboring communities while their stores are temporarily closed. The employees have joined a mobile kitchen crew providing hot meals, water, and emotional and spiritual care in Houma since Thursday.
Joan, Kateri, and Marva worked alongside the disaster team from Granbury on Sunday and helped serve more than 500 meals, despite an afternoon rainstorm. “I enjoy working at the Thrift Store and seeing the satisfaction on a customer’s face when I’m able to help them. I also love Christmas at The Salvation Army. I’m the queen of bell ringing!” said Marva. “But serving food from the mobile kitchen was a completely new experience for me. People were so happy to receive a meal. It felt really good to be part of helping everyone.”
Marva and her daughter Kateri decided not to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ida making landfall. “We woke up on Sunday morning and quickly changed our minds,” said Kateri. “The weather was already bad, and the wind was getting stronger, so we made the last-minute decision to leave. I drove as fast I could to Sunset, LA. It was the day of the storm and luckily most people had already left so there wasn’t’ much traffic.”
Joan lives in a trailer in Thibodaux and stayed through the storm, taking cover at a friend’s house a few blocks away. “I was pretty lucky. My house is fine but we’ve been out of power since Sunday,” said Joan. “This is my first time helping The Salvation Army with disaster work. I’m kind of speechless, it’s all so overwhelming. We get people coming to the store all the time asking for help, but this is something completely different. To see peoples’ faces when they get a hot meal is reward enough for what we’re doing.”
The ladies have worked in The Salvation Army stores for a combined 14 years. “I didn’t know the Army helped people to this extent and how big our disaster work is,” said Kateri.” It makes me proud to work for the organization and feel good that I’m part of something bigger than just our store.”
It is unclear when the Thrift Stores will re-open, although power has been restored to the Morgan City store. “We’re already receiving donations again, but I know that’s going to have to wait,” said Marva. “Even though disaster work is not our normal job, we’re just happy to be helping. Right now, we’re all part of Doing The Most Good, and then some!”
On Monday, mobile units will be serving in Hammond, Houma (2 units), Bourg, Gray, Lockport, Dulac, Albany, LaPlace, Bayou DuLarge, Bayou Blue, Cut Off, Larose, Napoleonville, Galliano, and Chauvin, and two Polaris ATV units will be roaming in the Gonzales area. Service addresses can be found at https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/aboutus/?IdaFacts
The mobile units from the Gonzales IMT have served 87,061 meals, 51,572 drinks, and 17,761 snacks. The Salvation Army has served 144,456 meals, 99,962 drinks, and 35,387 snacks, making 6,169 emotional and spiritual care contacts across the state in response to Hurricane Ida.