September 3, 2020, Baton Rouge-
All things come to an end, though their successor events take up the slack, right away. So it was with the ten-day sheltering exercise at Rapides Parish Coliseum, Alexandria, LA. (For those not familiar with Louisiana, a parish is the state’s equivalent of a county.)
We started early, maintaining services to the clients, until their 2 p.m. departure, either by chartered bus or personal vehicle to Louisiana State University at Alexandria, where they were either assigned to a mega-shelter or offered a hotel room somewhere else in Louisiana. A few stragglers came in during the day-two requesting lunch and one who thought he could stay the night. The couple got their lunch and the homeless man was given a couple of phone numbers to call for further assistance.
The hard work of breaking down sleeping cots and gathering up blankets lasted nearly four hours. Then, it was time to bid farewell to “Alex”. A dinner stop at Logan’s Road House, itself a happy, but somewhat chaotic establishment, provided fine food and good cheer.
Two hours later, we were here in Louisiana’s capital. I have tomorrow, and bit of Saturday, to rest up before the flight back to Arizona. It’s been a fascinating, sometimes grueling, deployment-getting to know and care deeply about, a cross-section of southwest and central Louisiana’s displaced people, both storm-displaced and homeless. There was no Black vs. White or Cajun/Creole vs. English- just a hundred thirty souls, all in the same boat.