by Pvt. Kourtney Grimes
Within just a few days in August, parts of Louisiana received more than seven trillion gallons of rain, forcing tens of thousands of families out of their homes.
As a result, more than 3,000 Louisiana Guardsmen were activated to help with flood relief across the state. Many of the soldiers called to duty had been displaced from their own homes as well.
Thankfully, their neighboring partners in Texas were there to help.
This scene isn’t new to Texas Army National Guard Cadet David Williams, 149th ARB, and a current resident of Baton Rouge. Aware of the devastation that comes with flooding like this, Williams was determined to help.
“The same units that are being affected are the same units that helped my family during Hurricane Katrina,” said Williams. “Not only are these my brothers in arms, but also these are the people that helped me out when I was growing up [during] Katrina.”
The 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed as Louisiana families again were picking up the pieces after a natural disaster.
Williams, along with a few other Texas Guardsmen, decided to start a supply drive for the displaced service members of Baton Rouge.
“It’s important to me because these are our brothers in arms who are answering the call, doing their duty and while they’re doing that, they are under a terrible situation,” Williams said, “losing their own property as well.”
Williams and his fellow battle buddies coordinated the unit’s efforts, collecting three vehicle loads of supplies, including more than 20 bags of clothes, appliances, tools, diapers, baby formula and food. The supplies were then transported more than 250 miles into Baton Rouge by three of the Texas Guardsmen.
The donations were sorted out by the needs of the specific Guard families in a local chapel that was temporarily used as a collection site.
“Some of the Soldiers have over nine feet of water in their homes. I know, from personal experience after Katrina, what it is like to go through that and it’s a lot. It’s not just water going through your house. It will sit there for ‘X’ amount of days and the mud and sewage backs up and you’re going to find wildlife in your houses. It’s devastating,” Williams said.
”It’s brothers-in-arms. They wear the same uniform — they just have a different state attached to them”
The Louisiana National Guard rescued thousands of citizens and pets during and after the flooding. As the mission transitioned from life rescues and disaster relief to support and recovery, the job is not close to being over.
“What we’re looking at now is that the waters have receded and there are heroes out there, the Guard members, who, throughout this whole operation have been volunteering their time at shelters, handing out food, cooking on the side of the road while people are going inside of homes, taking out all of the rotted wood and ripping out carpet and stuff like that,” said a Louisiana Guardsmen.
In the midst of dealing with the disaster themselves, the Louisiana Guardsmen can count on their Texas battle buddies to give them a helping hand.
“It’s just a case of neighbors helping neighbors,” said a Louisiana Guardsmen. “It’s brothers in arms. They wear the same uniform — they just have a different state attached to them in the National Guard. It’s just a great show of force and the one team, one fight mentality.”
—Pvt. Kourtney Grimes is with the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Texas National Guard