INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers have been on the ground in Louisiana all week since then Hurricane Ida swept through the delta leaving havoc in its wake.
Indiana Task Force One assisted with search and rescue efforts – they’ve been relieved of their duties by FEMA, they’ll be heading for home this weekend.
AES Indiana crew members, which left Indianapolis on August 30th, have just received their assignments and will head to Evansville after they were staged in Jackson, Mississippi for several days awaiting orders.
They’re tasked with restoring power after the deadly hurricane knocked out power for more than 1 million people.
Food you’ve donated to Midwest Food Bank is also headed south, The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police brought 500 boxes of nonperishable food supplies to police officers and their families working in the New Orleans area.
It’s easy to see Hoosiers are stepping up for strangers to do what Hoosiers do best, help.
“We just want to show them some Hoosier Hospitality. It means something. It means something to people all across this country. They’ll tell you consistently, there’s something different about the folks in Indiana,” Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder said. “We brought over 10,000 pounds of food… over 900 miles here to Louisiana.”
Snyder, with the help of Midwest Food Bank, was able to deliver the food to law enforcement officers tasked with taking care of folks picking up their lives after the storm, he wondered if not him, then who?
“With law enforcement officers what’s interesting is people forget about them. They’re the ones out on the front lines taking care of everybody else in the disaster but who’s taking care of their families? Well, nobody is,” Snyder said. “After the storm subsided, I got word that there was 500 police families that are without electricity for a month. I picked up the phone and I called John Whitaker over there at Midwest Food Bank and said, hey, I don’t know what’s even feasible but how can we help feed them? And he said, I’ll have 500 food boxes ready for you in less than 24 hours.”
Completing their journey Friday afternoon, Snyder says the storm did more damage than he had at first realized.
“We drove through some pretty extensive damage getting here to the sheriff’s office in St. Charles Parrish, some of which, is the likes of which I’ve never seen,” Snyder said. “Seeing that I knew it was well worth it for us to travel the 900 miles to get here… to bring them that hope and encouragement and just help them get through this.”
But these Hoosiers didn’t travel alone.
“That’s what we do in Indiana, as Hoosiers, is get busy get to work and do what we can, and in this case, we want to do what we can to safely and quickly restore power to the people of Louisiana,” AES Indiana Director of Public Relations Kelly Young said. “We know people would do that for and we absolutely wanna do that for people as well too.”
AES Indiana sent 17 crewmen to Louisiana, two of which they say helped restore power after Hurricane Katrina decimated the area years prior, they’ll begin their restoration work this time around Saturday morning.
“They’re really gonna be getting down there and figuring out how they can safely help restore electricity,” Young said. “I mean, the first step that’s being done is assessing that damage and then trying to figure out how they can restore power to some of the larger services and facilities which are critical to public health. But our boots are on the ground and we are ready.”
With a hug, a smile and a thumbs-up, Hoosiers step up to help.
After speaking with several law enforcement officers in the area before heading back home himself, Snyder said the Louisianans he spoke with were grateful.
“We were told more than once, you know, what you guys have done here is you brought us hope,” Snyder said. “So, it wasn’t about the food, it wasn’t about the distance that we’ve drove, we just simply brought them hope.”
Midwest Food Bank is looking for donations and volunteer help. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.