Our world is scientifically an amazing place; providing unimaginable beauty. Conversely, that same science spawns devastating storms as a byproduct of the beauty we love. On September 3, 2021, I, along with my neighbor, Earl Woolman, traveled from Franklin, Tennessee to the land of my birth, Bourg, Louisiana. This date marked the first day of my sixty first year of my life.
South Louisiana has been called a fisherman’s paradise for decades. Today, four days after Hurricane Ida made landfall, that nirvana still exists; showing the world the price that comes from living in that “garden of Eden”. If anyone had a reason to blame our Creator for allowing such destruction and pain to occur, it would be these people. Yet, they understand, with every fiber of their soul, God does not try to control the weather in good times or bad. His goodness created the science that brings them the abundance of blessings they enjoy almost every day of their life and sometimes, because of the same rotation of the earth and the power it requires to form the gravity that keeps their feet planted in paradise, some rain will fall, some wind will blow and the water will rise. To enjoy the blessing, they must endure some hardships.
This storm was brutal on property, to say the least. It attempted to blow away the peaceful landscape of oak covered bayous, the beauty of our French heritage and the loving calm that brings serenity to the bayou communities. After our visit, I can say without a doubt, the storm was unsuccessful on all counts; the Paradise remains in the heart of those who can see through the current chaos. The Cajun spirit has once more proven to be much stronger than the 195 mile per hour winds that ripped through their coastal communities.
I have been to many places during time of hardships, but this weekend reaffirmed what I already knew all along. South Louisiana is truly God’s country! The people radiate a never-ending love for their neighbors; people they may never have met. Regardless of their skin color, their sexual preference, their religion, or where they came from; they are treated the same by these wonderful people. In hard times they show phenomenal compassion, undeterred determination and hopeful optimism that only comes from a living Faith passed down through generations of survivors. Here are just a sample of what I personally witnessed.
I spoke to a man, sitting in a wheelchair near the side of the road enjoying the early morning breeze. He was surrounded by debris torn from his home; piles of broken tree limbs the thickness of a man’s body just inches away from where he sat. When I greeted him, “Good morning!” He replied, “It sure is.” I asked him, “Sir, do you need assistance of any kind; water, food, gas, cleaning supplies or maybe some help moving debris or securing your home?” With a smile on his face, he said, “Thank you son, but nope, I am good.” Looking around, he said, “We were blessed, we have all that we need; please give what you have to those worse off than me.”
“Are you sure?” We have plenty.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Good luck and Thank you!”
No more than a mile down the road, we came upon a more elderly man gathering the remaining smaller branches from his yard. His home sat ten feet from the edge of the canal whose water threatened his life hours before. As I stopped the truck, he stepped up to my open window. He was in his seventies or eighties; he was wearing a ball cap which covered up an obvious medical implant connected to four wires trailing down the back of his neck from the crown of his head. Once more, I explained that we had supplies and food staples we were handing out to those in need. We were also willing to physically help in any way that we could. After I finished describing our purpose, he too smiled as he said; “It is so nice to have people willing to help at times like this. I’m sure you will have no trouble finding someone that needs your help. As you can see”, turning in the direction of the home; with the windows still boarded up so flying debris wouldn’t break through the window panes, “our house fared fairly well, suffering only minimal damage. There are many along this bayou who cannot say the same this morning. Please give those supplies to those much worse off than my wife and I. We are doing fine.”
There were other people who did graciously accept our assistance. We were successful in giving out all of the materials, food, and water, and helped to bring hope and peace of mind to over two hundred people. But, remarkably enough, these two good Samaritans walked away with much more than we left behind.
Thanks to the generosity of residents of Cheswick Farms in Franklin, TN, the St. Philip Knights of Columbus and countless friends all over this country, we were able to bring prayers, money, and the various materials to the people of Bourg and the surrounding towns. You will not see these communities mentioned on the news because they are small towns of 2500 people located 70 miles southwest of New Orleans but those towns endured the fury of the storm’s eye wall for upwards of 8 hours. No one in that village was spared property loss of some kind and most currently find themselves without a livable home and those that can live in their home will be without public electricity and drinkable utility water for a month or more. On behalf of each of those effected, Thank You!
Where there is love, there is hope! When compassion is present, so is our Lord! I personally have no doubt, that where there is Jesus, there is paradise. I have been blessed to live in and witness a living paradise in the peace of a clear day and in the wake of this terrible storm.
If this is my last post, I want all to know there was only one purpose for all that I have written; to have made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Anthony “Tony” Boquet, Vice President, The American College, author of “The Bloodline of Wisdom, The Awakening of a Modern Solutionary”, and a resident of Franklin, TN, a native of Bourg, Louisiana.