Help Houma Hurricane Relief effort starts Friday

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, September 2, 2021

Hurricane Ida’s destruction.

Some individuals and groups are collecting funds and supplies to aid these Mississippi neighbors.

One such group is the Help Houma Hurricane Relief supply drive.

Spearheaded by Brookhaven businessman Mike Whatley, and supported by several community partners, the drive is collecting bottled water, non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, toiletries, baby supplies and paper products, beginning Friday, Sept. 3.

Whatley’s home is Brookhaven, but he and his wife are natives of Houma, Louisiana. He has family and property there, and a large part of his heart is there, too.

“We still have a place in Cocodrie, a fishing community near Houma, and our camp was hammered pretty hard. We got some pretty severe damage,” Whatley said. “We’ve been traveling back and forth bringing fuel, water, groceries and anything we can grab and taking it down to Houma.”

Houma and other bayou communities in South Louisiana were hit hard and residents are reeling from the destruction, he said.

“We’ve been traveling down since Wednesday, and it’s hard to move around still — there are telephone poles all over the roads … folks are in extreme need,” Whatley said. “The electrical grid is just wiped out down there. It took us about three weeks after Katrina to get power restored, but this is going to be at least a six-week or longer thing from what I can tell.”

Just being told about the destruction or seeing photos of it doesn’t do justice to what has happened in the area, he said.

“You wouldn’t believe the devastation. It’s horrible to see all the suffering people have to go through in the initial stages after this hurricane,” the businessman said. “So we want to try to reach out and help those we can while we can. If we have the means to help people, we need to do so.”

Whatley said one of the worst parts for people in the affected areas is having no means of communication, no access to news or even social media, so they don’t know if people outside the area know they are hurting and in need of water, cleaning supplies, generators, etc.

“You can see the destruction from Hammond all the way south,” he said. “We welcome all who would like to come in and share and support our effort.”

The collection will last until Sept. 17, after which all donated supplies will be loaded and transported in cooperation with Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s transportation program, and distributed to those in need in Houma.

Rotary Club president Shannon Miller stepped up as coordinator of the donation effort after Whatley contacted her to garner the club’s support.

“Our partners and our local media, civic organizations and hospital always do a great job of stepping up and helping other communities in time of disasters,” Miller said. “Brookhaven always steps up and I am super proud of that.”

Donations will be accepted beginning Friday morning at The Daily Leader, Mike Whatley Honda, the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, B92.1/MAGIC 104.3/The Buyer’s Guide on Schwem Avenue, and the Wesson and Natchez campuses of Copiah-Lincoln Community College — the Ewing Administration Building in Wesson and the VP Office Building in Natchez.

For more information, contact Miller at 662-312-1958.