If you follow my blog regularly, or just happened to see it on Facebook or wherever, you know I spent the last weekend of July at a family reunion in Louisiana. If you’ve followed the news at all the last few days, you probably know where this is going.
All of the biological relatives at the family reunion (though a couple had already left)
Glenda is the lovely lady who hosted our reunion. I think she’s technically my first cousin, once removed – she’s my dad’s first cousin. Their dads were brothers.
She has two adult children, both of whom live with her at the moment. They’re my second cousins.
Her daughter is Mandee. She’s become a dear friend over the years. We don’t talk as much as I’d like, and I’d never met her before that reunion, but nonetheless…
Allen… Well, Allen is a miracle. When he was born, his parents were told he had maybe a week to live.
Mandee, Allen, and Glenda last year (Mandee has blonde hair now ;))
That was somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty years ago.
Allen has spina bifida. He’s paralyzed from the waist down and reliant on his motorized wheelchair and a specially equipped van to get around, and others for pretty much everything he can’t do for himself. He has ongoing health problems because of all of that, but he’s an outgoing, energetic, upbeat person.
They live in the home next door to the church where the reunion (pictured above) was held.
So where am I going with this and what does it have to do with yesterday’s Giving Back post?
Saturday, we all started hearing that the Baton Rouge area was flooding. I saw pictures of the intersection half a mile or less from our hotel. Under water. Everything flooded.
Outside their home
And I heard that Glenda, Mandee, and Allen were unable to get out of their home because it caught them off-guard. They normally bug out early when they suspect something might happen (they’re only a couple hours from the coast after all and hello, hurricanes), but this time, no one was prepared. The water was on their road, and they couldn’t get out, but their house is on a little bit of a hill and had never been close to flooded before.
By Sunday morning, the water was in their house. Communication was spotty at best. They have AT&T and, thanks to the flooding, one of their “switching centers*” was down, and there was no service. Eventually, as the water in the house was at least knee high, a member of the “Cajun Navy” (here is another story about the Cajun Navy) showed up and were able to get them to another home much further above water, and miraculously still had power. One person had a Verizon phone with a bit of power, and they were able to make a quick call.
Allen in the boat – you can see his usual wheelchair in the water next to it
They were there for a period of time, along with a number of others. The Army came along in a truck and promised to be back after picking up a few others further down the road. They did, but were unable to get Allen (now long sans his usual wheelchair and in a regular one) into the truck. They would send a helicopter that would hopefully be able to get them out. (Another quick call on that Verizon phone before everyone else left.)
I still don’t have the details of how it all went down (and I admit I could be wrong/have misunderstood some of the details I just shared), but by the time I went to bed Sunday night, they’d been taken to a shelter in a nearby town.
Monday, word came the house was under water up to the eaves. They moved several times in an effort to get them to a location where Allen’s needs could be taken care of more easily. From what I’ve gathered, the “medical shelter” still leaves a lot to be desired. As I’m sure you can imagine, the number of people needing medical assistance after being in that water… Even minor cuts can become major issues in situations like this, and no one is immune.
But Allen’s blood work came back showing his kidneys are functioning normally. PRAISE GOD! I’m sure there’s still on-going concerns, and I know they would appreciate your prayers. Glenda and Allen are with her brother and sister-in-law in Texas now, while Mandee stays closer to home and starts to see what needs doing to rebuild.
I’ve seen estimates that 75% of the homes in their parish (aka: county) are a total loss, including up to 90% in their town of Denham Springs.
The Cajun Navy
So again, what does this have to do with yesterday’s post?
They’ve lost EVERYTHING. From Allen’s wheelchair and the van to get them around to Mandee’s truck to clothes, furniture, electronics, you name it.
Another cousin, Donna (Glenda’s sister), runs a charity and has set up a way for people to give funds as they are able to. If you feel so led, here’s the direct link. You can also mail directly to the address at the bottom and note what the donation is for. All donations are tax deductible. If you’ve followed my blog (or Facebook page) long enough, or around Christmas, you’ve likely seen me share a toy story her husband, Randy, tells every year.
For August (yes, even though it’s already half over, all of August) and September (and maybe October), my “cause of the month” is my family. 12% of my US ebook sales (which is the VAST VAST majority of my sales) will go to Glenda, Mandee, and Allen to help them rebuild their lives.
In addition, if you give a minimum of $25 to this particular cause, I will gift you a Kindle copy of Discovering Home when it releases next month. Just shoot me an email at donations at candidpublications dot com (they MUST go to this address, set up solely for this purpose) – include your name, the email address you’d like Amazon to deliver the book to, whether it was online or mailed directly to Spirit and Truth Ministries, and the date of the donation. I’m not going to ask for a copy of the receipt, so this is an honor system, but I trust y’all won’t take advantage.
If you’ve also been displaced, I hope you understand why I’m helping my family specifically through this. However, if you have been and would like a bit of reading material to help pass the time and hopefully take your mind off things for even a little while, send me an email at the same address and I will gladly send e-copies of any one series already published to you (these will be done a bit differently than above). You are all in my heart and in my prayers continually.
Spirit and Truth Ministries
Randy and Donna Denton
PO Box 2635
Mission, TX 78573-0044
*Kudos to Verizon for stepping up where they could help