Adopting a sister city – Bayou La Batre
Nothing tempers the carefree nature of a vacation like a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. Not that my family and I were in the area devastated by the storm. Nonetheless, we were on vacation set to have fun and relax, but that was hard to do as the sad news came pouring out of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.Our course of action, like countless others thousands of miles away from the Gulf states, was to pull out the checkbook and send a little something to the Red Cross.Similar thoughts went through the minds of many people here in Truckee, as well, including the seniors at Sierra High School. But the students wanted to do something a little more personal than write a check. So that’s when Principal Jane Loomis and the students decided to make disaster relief the focus of the seniors’ community service project.Now, however, the project is taking on bigger proportions.The students are asking the Truckee Town Council to pass a resolution at Thursday’s meeting that will essentially adopt the Alabama Gulf Coast town of Bayou La Batre, population 2,300, which was hard hit by Katrina, said Margie Meyer, an English language development teacher at Sierra High School.”We want this to be our town of Truckee adopting and making Bayou La Batre a sister city,” Meyer said Tuesday. “We want to be able to build their resources and rebuild their community.”Bayou La Batre has long been a town built around the shrimping industry – so much so that parts of “Forrest Gump” were filmed there. Each spring the local Catholic church blesses the town’s fleet, boats are decorated, a parade is held and plenty of gumbo is consumed.But Katrina decimated the fleet and poisoned fishing grounds. It will be sometime before boats are blessed again in Bayou La Batre.For an account of a tiny town torn apart by a Category 5 hurricane, go to the LA Times Web site http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bayou13sep13,1,4168143.story?coll=la-headlines-nationThe students, meanwhile, found Bayou La Batre after offers of help to Louisiana and Mississippi went unanswered, Meyer said. That’s when they were put in touch with Stan Wright, the mayor of Bayou La Batre.”What the town really needs is a long-term plan to rebuild and get people employed,” Meyer said, adding that Wright has pledged to draft a plan that will address needs and account for any donations.And while the Red Cross and Salvation Army are addressing Bayou La Batre’s basic needs, want will continue to shadow the ethnically diverse town – where many were uninsured – for months and years ahead. That’s were we all can come into the picture. If you’ve been wanting to do something other than writing a check that will go to a worthy, albeit unknown, cause in the Gulf area, go to town hall on Thursday at 6 p.m. and support the resolution to support Bayou La Batre.But that’s not where things should end. Ideally, Meyer said those behind the resolution would like to see annual fund-raisers that help our potential sister city in the years to come. Sounds like a good idea to me. I think Truckee could use a good, down-South gumbo fest. Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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