The hurricanes of 2008 set new benchmarks for destruction. Gustav was the worst-ever storm in Baton Rouge. And, some of our neighbors from Grand Isle to Cameron Parish are wondering if they will ever recover from Ike. Our spirit has been tested again. But beyond the downed trees and power lines, the battered roofs and traffic snarls, we noticed something else.
We saw people helping people. There were simple gestures, like the guy who set up a power strip so people could recharge cell phones. We were told about an 80-year-old woman in Central who was hospitalized with a heart attack hours before Gustav arrived. The yard this elderly woman still mowed and cared for herself was full of downed trees and debris, but not for long. Neighbors walked past the mess in their own yards to clean this woman's property. In the Bridalwood subdivision, a group of young men got out chainsaws and cleared trees off homes and driveways at no charge.These were contagious acts of neighbor helping neighbor. People sat outside in the shade because that was cooler than staying indoors in a house with no air-conditioning. In that way, too, we re-discovered our neighborhood. We helped each other and we became friends. Now, a polite wave to a neighbor driving down the street has a deeper meaning, thanks to a hurricane.