Since last Thursday, flood waters have driven tens of thousands of Louisiana residents from their homes. Eleven people have died. Though both Louisiana and Mississippi are under a state of emergency, this natural disaster—possibly the worst since Hurricane Sandy—has garnered only passing attention outside the region.
A oft-cited passage from Will Campbell’s novel Brother to a Dragonfly speaks to the Southern instinct to care for one another in times like this:
Somehow in rural Southern culture, food is always the first thought of neighbors when there is trouble. […] ‘Here, I brought you some fresh eggs for your breakfast. And here’s a cake. And some potato salad.’ It means, ‘I love you. And I am sorry for what you are going through and I will share as much of your burden as I can.’ And maybe potato salad is a better way of saying it.”
The need for nourishment, the urge to nourish those in need—these attest to our common humanity at the most basic level.
Yet in the face of heart-wrenching tragedy, it becomes clear that potato salad is not enough. Bearing the burdens of our neighbors and loved ones may start with sharing a meal, but it must not end there.
Stories of heroism and sacrifice have trickled in as first responders fight fatigue and continue to rescue survivors. A number of celebrities have pledged assistance to relief efforts. At least a dozen New Orleans restaurants are accepting donations for flood victims.
This support, from organizations and everyday individuals, is vital in crises. It is also just the first step. Recovery and rebuilding efforts will require a great deal of time and resources. Please consider how you can help, both now and in the coming weeks and months.
*cover image via shreveporttimes.com