Local Woman Organizes Aid for Hurricane Ida Victims
Hurricane Ida hit the state of Louisiana with a vengeance. With winds raging at 150 miles per hour at landfall, the hurricane displaced families across the state. One local woman has family ties in Barataria, Louisiana.
“My aunt and uncle live in Barataria,” says Terri Gegenheimer, a Fishers resident. “The town flooded because the bridge broke into pieces. Their house then caught on fire. The fire department was flooded and couldn’t help, so my aunt and uncle watched their house burn down.”
Her uncle built the home with his own two hands.
“There was nothing they could do but just cry,” Gegenheimer says. “They lost family photos and memories of loved ones they can’t get back. The fire went from their house to another six houses. It’s just heartbreaking.”
Gegenheimer wanted to help, but struggled figuring out how to get essential goods like clothing, toiletries and cleaning supplies to her family. She sought out her online friends on Facebook for help.
“I’m in a neighborhood Facebook page, and I just posted on the page explaining what happened,” Gegenheimer says. “I just put the need out there, and the response was overwhelming. I thought we’d get a few things we could just ship down there.”
Instead, Gegenheimer received truckloads of donations.
“My friends Lydia and Lisa helped me because it was a huge undertaking,” Gegenheimer says. “A neighbor was going down to Louisiana for work and volunteered to take a truckload himself. We still have more items to get down there.”
Lydia Conley helped Gegenheimer pack and organize items.
“Originally, it was just going to be a few boxes that Terri was going to send down to her family,” Conley says. “It quickly grew into a garage full of items. It’s unfortunate because sewage pipes have burst in some of these homes. These people literally have nothing.”
Gegenheimer is a self-described introvert and has spoken to more people regarding this project than she has in a very long time.
“Talking to so many people and organizing all this is very far out of my comfort zone,” Gegenheimer says. “These past couple of years have been rough on everybody. Honestly, this project has restored my faith in humanity. These women who donated really came out in full force. Many of them don’t know my family or me. It’s been refreshing to my soul to see that people really are good, and they do care.”
Gegenheimer is working with a local organization called the Flexware Foundation to ensure the second truckload gets to Louisiana.
“We received grant money from Flexware Foundation,” Gegenheimer says. “Along with the cash donations from neighbors, we have the funds to rent a truck with a driver to pick up the items at my house and drive them to St. Anthony Church in Lafitte, Louisiana. Mutual Aid Disaster Relief will facilitate the distribution of the donations from there. We also received a wish list from a local teacher, for families in need. We’ll be working to get those items as well.”
Gegenheimer hopes to keep sending donations in the future.