It gets cold in February, even in southern Louisiana, but thanks to a generous donation of blankets to Hurricane Katrina victims by the Republic of Macedonia families here will stay warm. Dale and Redelle Scarabin lost their Venice, Louisiana home to Katrina and are living in a temporary 16 x 20 foot plywood shelter. Their entire family including 5 children aged 9 months to 7 years lives together in this one room.
“We have a generator for lights and a space heater for warmth,” Redelle said. “But our place is not insulated, and we really appreciate these blankets on the chilly nights we have here in the winter.”
The Republic of Macedonia donated $300,000 and 40,000 blankets for the relief of Hurricane Katrina victims in the New Orleans area. The blankets were received in mid-January, 2006, at the American Red Cross warehouse at Reserve, west of New Orleans. Since then they have been distributed through Red Cross locations and through local churches and charitable groups. In many cases, Katrina victims lost all their blankets and bedding in the hurricane. The blankets have been a welcome addition to the disaster relief supplies provided to victims, particularly during some of the colder periods this winter.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana just north of the Scarabin’s home at the small town of Buras. Mississippi River levees broke and much of the area was flooded, with up to twelve feet of water remaining for six weeks in some areas. The Scarabin family was evacuated to a shelter in Houma, Louisiana.
“On aerial photos we could see where our property was, because we have two big palm trees in the front yard. That is all we could see however, and everything else was just water.”
They returned at the end of October to find their house trailer smashed and moved off their lot by the storm surge. Only the frame of the trailer, the floor and one wall remained in one piece. The only other thing remaining was the partially completed hull of a fishing boat that Dale was working on.
“We lived for a while in a tent until we built this home,” said Redelle. “It was pretty tough, with the kids and all, but this is our home and we are going to rebuild. My husband and I have lived here all our lives, and we’re not going to give up.”
The American Red Cross has been helping the Scarabin family with food and water, clothes and utensils, and other things that are needed to set up a home from nothing. The Red Cross operates a Point of Distribution (POD) just north in Boothville, and coordinates supplies with several cooperating organizations to provide needed assistance to families facing the difficult task of rebuilding their lives after Katrina.
Jennifer Pine is a Red Cross volunteer from Monroe, Michigan, and the supervisor of POD #2 in Boothville. “We have been working with Redelle and her family, not only to help provide them the material things and food that they need to help get on their feet but also to help them through the trauma and upheaval that they have gone through,” Pine said. “Our mental health counselors have made visits to their home and worked with Redelle and her children.”
Today, the Scarabin family is planning ahead for the future. Dale spends much of his time as a commercial fisherman and plans on setting up a fishing gear shop to replace the one he lost to Katrina. He will also complete the partially finished fishing boat that Katrina spared. The family has been waiting since October for FEMA trailers so that they can move out of the one-room plywood shelter, and are hopeful that something will be resolved soon. In the meantime, thanks to relief supplies from the Red Cross and warm blankets from Macedonia, they will be able to make it until spring.