Sending some love to Louisiana
Chris Cryder and Myron Cooper are back in Truckee but still recovering after a week spent aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Cryder and Cooper, both long-time Truckee residents, began their journey to the Gulf Coast on Sept. 12, driving the Cryder family’s six-sleeper Winnebago, which would later be donated to a storm victim, and towing a 24-foot trailer filled with food, toiletries, and camping equipment.
The decision to donate his vacation vehicle came to Cryder just days after the storm hit and the devastation was evident. He said his family only used the Winnebago a few times a year and that it would be appreciated by someone in need.
In less than a week the trailer was filled and the motorhome was ready to hit the road.
Cryder and Cooper, who met for the first time only hours before their departure, were brought together through the efforts of Truckee’s churches to raise funds and supplies for disaster victims. The pair drove 60 hours straight to reach the devastated town of Covington, La., a community roughly the size of Truckee that sits about 40 miles outside of New Orleans.
“The devastation is absolute,” Cryder said. “Nobody has ever experienced anything like this. It’s a whole other world down there.”
Upon arriving in Covington, Cooper and Cryder unloaded their goods into a distribution center that had been set up by a local church. Initiative had been taken by community members who quickly realized that assistance would be slow to come. With relief efforts focused dominantly in New Orleans, FEMA and other groups had yet to arrive in Covington a week and a half after the storm hit. The National Guard made their first supply drop just hours before Cooper and Cryder arrived with theirs on Sept. 14.
“If this is Homeland Security’s idea of taking care of something that went wrong, then we are all in really big trouble,” Cryder said. “And people are getting no help from insurance companies because they are so overwhelmed by the scope of this disaster.”
Cryder described resources in the area to be minimal, with only a small handful of local businesses in operation, barren grocery shelves and dry gas stations. But the garbage, he said, may well have been one of the larger issues. Two-story piles of rot and rubbish now fill the streets, which are plowed to keep them clear.
For six days Cryder and Cooper assisted at Covington’s distribution center, handing boxes and bags of basic goods through car windows. At times, Cryder said, the line of cars stretched for nearly a mile and included people of all economic levels.
In all, the members of Truckee’s various churches rounded up more than $10,000 in cash, and enough food and goods to fill the trailer and motorhome, which stayed behind to become someone’s new home.
A single mother and her 8-year-old daughter will be the likely recipients of the motorhome, which is fully stocked with food, clothing, dishes, and a generator. During the storm, the roof of their small home was ripped away to leave them exposed to the intense winds and rain. The two ran more than a half mile through the storm to the safety of a neighbors home to survive the rest of the storm, Cryder said.
“We don’t have to be FEMA or the National Guard, we can help on our own,” he said. “There were things that those people needed that we gave from this little community. Truckee should be very proud.”
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The county’s coronavirus case load rose by 63 over the weekend, bringing its new total to 3,355.