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Hurricane Gustav wrought significant damage on Louisiana's lower parishes. Brenda Dardar Robichaux, principal Chief of the United Houma Nation (UHN) has been busy at work assessing wind and storm-surge damage across the lower parishes, throughout which the tightly knit, low-income Houma Indians are spread.
On Saturday, September 6, Ariella Cohen (staff writer at CityBusiness), local activist Karen Gadbois, blogger Maitri Venkat-Ramani, Beacon of Hope Resource Center members and I (one of the founders of Open Sound New Orleans) traveled to Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes to survey Gustav's impact in the region and bring supplies to the UHN at The Old Store in Raceland. The Old Store is the community's central meeting place and supply center. When we showed up, five days after Gustav made landfall there, its shelves were bare. The UHN is in desperate need of supplies to enable members to begin the process of recovery as they return home. You can find a list of supplies needed at the United Houma Nation's website.
Front yards are now mud pits. Many homes were flooded and even more have suffered significant wind damage to their roofs. One house was tossed off its foundation and thrown onto a nearby earthen levee. New Orleans was lucky this time. But these stories aren't unfamiliar.
The Houmas are our neighbors; they face many of the same challenges as residents of other coastal communities — posed by both hurricanes and human intervention in the landscape. They are the residents of the wetlands, and as Maitri noted, their loss is our loss. Their survival is our survival, too. Please remember them in this time of need. To make a donation or find out how you can help, visit the Houma Nation's website.
Photos on this page courtesy of Maitri Venkat-Ramani.