Members from congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including Tucker, traveled to LaPlace, Louisiana over the weekend to assist with Hurricane Isaac clean-up as part of the church’s Helping Hands program. The program was established in 1998 to help people whose lives have been affected by natural disasters and other emergencies.
Volunteers traveled to the area with chain saws, hammers, crowbars, utility knives, brooms and rakes as well as their own food, water, work clothes, sleeping bags and tents. They were instructed to report to the LaPlace church to help with flood-damaged houses in nearby St. John the Baptist’s Parish.
Members from Atlanta began arriving late Friday and by 8 a.m. Saturday morning were heading out to the sites with boxes of food and buckets of cleaning supplies. They removed wet carpet, molded drywall, tile and other debris.
Matt Hammond of Tucker reported that their first assignment was at the home of a young couple who had only lived in their house for a year. The owners had already done a lot of cleaning up so the remaining work went quickly with the added 10 volunteers.
The group’s next assignment was harder because the house, owned by an elderly couple, had not been touched in the weeks since the storm when they were flooded by four and a half feet of water. Hammond said, “When we entered the home it was difficult to breathe because of the mold that covered carpets, furniture and walls. It was even more difficult to gather everything that had been valuable to that family and remove it to the front lawn for disposal. Despite the sadness of it all the couple was so grateful for our help.”
Reggie Brett from Dunwoody commented, “One thing that impressed me was the power that serving others has to bring people together. In one area we were assigned to two homes close together. In addition to our crew, the home owner had her four teenage sons working alongside us. At first it was somewhat awkward trying to get everyone moving in the same direction. But in spite of our differences (age, race, religion, etc.), by the time we finished the second house, we were laughing and joking and working together like old friends.”
Kylee and Paul Bush, of Stone Mountain, along with their two teenage daughters, also traveled to LaPlace. Kylee stated, “(My husband) had helped out after Hurricane Katrina and said it was a life-changing experience for him and that our girls would see that too. So we all went. We sweated, got blisters and used muscles we didn't know existed, but it was also one the best experiences I've ever had."
On Sunday morning the Atlanta group of volunteers joined more than 400 members of the church that were camping there for a short service. Then they worked until 1 p.m. before packing up and driving the eight and a half hours home.