By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I want to share with you this latest article by Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review because it begins to touch the surface of why I love Louisiana and also about how we are recovering from Hurricane Ida.
The southern part of Louisiana, west to east, has dealt with devastating hurricane and storm damage over the past couple of years. It seems that Katrina is the one everyone talks about but that was in 2005. Meanwhile, Hurricane Laura (August 2020) and then Delta (October 2020) followed by historic flooding rains in May 2021, have left Lake Charles, Louisiana literally devastated. Hurricane Ida came along this year and hit the southeastern coast of Louisiana and there are still people without power in some of the more remote areas of SE Louisiana.
Why do we stay? Why don’t we leave and go where we don’t have to worry about such things?
Kathryn Lopez’s piece helps put that in perspective a bit:
In storm-damaged Louisiana, there is not victimhood, but resilience and gratitude. I asked an Uber driver — a single mom of two who had to quit her job as a schoolteacher during the height of COVID to help her children with their at-home school — whether it’s hard living in Louisiana. “Not at all,” she said. “Life always has its challenges, but God is good, and our lives are gifts, and we must live them in love of and trust in Him.” That witness of the people I meet in Louisiana [ … ] is a challenge to the rest of us, who can get caught up in so many things that we don’t have all that much control over.
Don’t get me wrong: people down there need help. They need those donations of tarps and water that are pouring in. Those huge pots of jambalaya and gumbo that are feeding families, linemen, clean-up volunteers, all of that is appreciated.
But the only thing to do is to clean up and rebuild. I had an aunt that lived in Lake Charles when I was a child; they rebuilt their home several times and never left.
The Cajun people are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. Survival is in their DNA. So is joie de vivre, hospitality, and warmth.
I think about these values often when we travel to that part of the state; we stay five weeks of the year in south Louisiana and I am always impressed by the strong communities, the strong family unit, and the pure faith that these people have. Yes, there are problems, but as Lopez says, we learn to trust in God, to see what tomorrow brings.
Lopez is correct. I don’t think anybody down there feels like a victim. These storms may dampen spirits and slow us down for a minute but pack your suitcase and come on down: the hotels are open, the boudin is hot, and the music is floating up through the trees. You might see more blue tarps on roofs and hear more chainsaws and pounding hammers, but Louisiana is bouncing back better than ever.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.