Published on September 13, 2020 | by Johnna Crider
September 13, 2020 by Johnna Crider
The aftermath of Hurricane Laura continues for those in southwest Louisiana. Many are now facing a mosquito apocalypse while Louisiana has been all but forgotten by the national media. Walt Handelsman, editorial draftsman at The Advocate, my local Baton Rouge newspaper, shared this stunning picture online:
After The Advocate printed it, Walt also gave me permission to use it. The message is clear: don’t forget Lake Charles, Louisiana, in these dark times. Not just Lake Charles, but all of Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) needs help. This is a request, a shout from those of us in Louisiana: Please don’t forget us.
Not only have Lake Charles and southwest Louisiana been forgotten, but people and animals are also grappling with the aftermath of a storm affected by climate change.
Swarms of mosquitoes displaced from the swamps of southwest Louisiana by Hurricane Laura are causing a variety of livestock problems, including “widespread” cattle deaths. https://t.co/WiPmENRO8Y
– 25NewsKXXV (@ 25NewsKXXV) September 10, 2020
Thick clouds of mosquitoes have descended on the cattle. Research has shown that at least hundreds of cattle and horses have been killed in five parishes. Ville Platte veterinarian Craig Fontenot says these mosquito armies drained the animals’ blood. The animals are also exhausted from constant movement to avoid the insects.
Jeremy Hebert from the LSU AgCenter spoke to several ranchers who have lost up to eight animals. He had also heard of three mosquito deaths in horses. Fontenot, who estimated that hundreds of cattle and some horses have already been killed in at least five parishes, commented, “Much is on the verge of dying.” He shared a photo with 4WWL of mosquitoes covering the belly of a bull. It’s not a pretty sight.
The Mooresville Tribune found that these swarms have killed 300 to 400 cattle and horses since Hurricane Laura landed two weeks ago. Fontenot, who also spoke to the Mooresville Tribune, said the large number of bites made horses and cattle anemic and bleed under their skin. The mosquitoes remain a major problem in the Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis parishes, although community officials are now spraying to kill them.
The consequences continue
Good morning World ! Please, please, please! We need your help, #laurahurricane Recovery / It’s like hell. The @WhiteHouse is always too promising and too little. Like Katrina, volunteers from across America are essential. @ LouisianaGov. @nytimes @AmericanPress @MSNBC @ AC360 pic.twitter.com/NFpj4bRXlq
– Russel L. Honore ‘(@ltgrusselhonore) September 9, 2020
It has been two weeks since the storm and the media has largely moved on. Local media outlets such as Houston’s KHOU, NOLA.com, and The Advocate newspaper chain throughout southern Louisiana continue to report, and KPLC TV has published daily updates for the residents of Lake Charles, but the hurricane is now “yesterday’s news” in the news national media.
Unfortunately there are still people without electricity. Here are some updates from KPLC TV:
- City parks and playgrounds remain closed.
- The city’s water has been used up again, but for the time being everyone is still under “boiling water advice”.
- Travel is limited. Only important workers are allowed to drive on the city streets.
- Electricity has not yet been fully restored and the city has advised residents to keep the main switch off.
- There is also a curfew for the entire community from dusk to dawn. Hospitals are now operational, but with limited capacity.
You can read more here.
Interview with Choppy Guillotte
As the aftermath continues to unfold, many feel that their screams are not being heard. Anyone scrolling through this Twitter timeline will be stunned to see what’s going on in Lake Charles. While doing my part on Twitter, trying to amplify the injured’s voices, I made friends online with Choppy Guillotte, a New Orleans actor who has played roles in Antebellum, The Purge, Strange Weather, and First Man. He’s from Lake Charles. He shared his thoughts with me about the lack of media coverage.
He pointed out something that many have said: Lake Charles is a small town and not really a headliner when it comes to news. “Now that the hurricane has landed, there isn’t much more attention-grabbing drama.” He pointed out. Sure, a lot of people suffer, but the media is all about sensational headlines – that’s what drives reviews (aka cash).
“What is going on now, even though there is a lot of human suffering, are more or less isolated cases across the city (and in the surrounding areas). There isn’t one major focus that the MSM can focus on. It’s more like a “series” of individual stories. For the media, this means a lot more work and a lot more resources to “cover” what is happening. And it also has a kind of “feel good” or positive mood (although many people are hurt), which means that it is put into the “neighbor helps neighbor” and “strangers help strangers” phase. There are no widespread unrest, the struggle and the obstacles people face are more personal (with their homes, their work, their school, their family challenges) and they are also more internal (depression, anger, feelings of loss, confusion , Uncertainty). “Choppy told me in an email.
Another point he made was that we have just a few months to go with a big choice and we are being thrown into this toxic mix, a pandemic that is still in full swing. To add fuel to this proverbial fire, the entire west coast is on fire.
“In all honesty, I think there is little that can be done at this point to get the MSM (or Hollywood) attention. The ‘big moment’ has happened. I also think Laura was some kind of “sleeper” hurricane because she went from cat 2 to cat 4 in a matter of hours and then landed and was over (for the MSM) … there was almost no “build” -up ‘, and unless you live or know someone who does in the southeastern US, you haven’t had much time to expose yourself to this, and neither have you had a chance of really getting’ invested ‘. I think a lot of the country doesn’t even know what happened to Laura. “
This is true. A friend of mine in Atlanta called me earlier today and asked me what’s new. I told him that Lake Charles now had water but the power was still off, but that Baton Rouge was not affected. His answer was as follows: “What are you talking about?” So I had to explain that we had a Category 4 hurricane that only hit 100 miles and was some changes away from me. He had no idea. He thought it would hit Texas. (One hit hit Texas hard earlier this year.) Speaking of hurricanes, there’s more brewing – hurricane season isn’t over yet.
“Cross your fingers, there won’t be another big one,” said Choppy, “but remember that Rita met three weeks after Katrina and they were both super powerful.”
I asked Choppy to share some thoughts on the people of Lake Charles and the surrounding area. I wanted to find a way not only to bring hope with my writing, but to bring a light into the darkness with my words, hoping to let those who suffer know that we are hearing them. There are many on Twitter who stand up for those affected by the storm.
“I feel like the Mayor of Lake Charles when he said he loves social media, but he hates it too. and I think it is social media (i.e., ordinary people) that keep the story (or stories) of Laura’s episodes alive. It’s the same people who called the MSM as well as celebrities. You and I, those of us who know the area, have lived there, have a family there or have just visited, and who appreciate the people, the culture, the food, the music and the landscape. We are the true “social network” and our power is strong. It’s almost like a grassroots campaign, and the effects could be much bigger and longer. It has become or is becoming more personal. History has moved from the MSM, primetime anchors and newspaper coverage into the hands of the viewers, the readers, the ‘watchers’ and we are not letting go of it. “
The entire southwestern region of Louisiana “struggles and hurts, but comes together and does the job. With all odds against them, they lead and participate in the recovery effort. “
Choppy pointed out that he didn’t ignore the hard work of the workers who work there around the clock. He shared how he saw posts online from teams of the Lineman that came from across the country – these teams are passionate about restoring power. He has seen several posts from his friends and family sharing their personal stories, thanking the linemen, thanking their neighbors and strangers for their help.
“It will be years before the city comes back (people will be without many modern conveniences for days, weeks, and months), and I bet parts of the region, like parts of Cameron Parish, will be gone forever (unless , The Army Corps of Engineers can figure out how to build a wall or infrastructure to withstand big gulf storms. Engineering isn’t my forte, so I’m not sure it’s even possible. “
Choppy shared his final thought with me and it was about the pain of the sufferer. “I think I hope everyone doesn’t feel neglected or abandoned there. That everyone gets the help they need. And that the worst is behind them, though I’m afraid it isn’t. I also worry that there are elderly or poor people we don’t even know about who may not survive what lies ahead even though they survived the storm. That breaks my heart.”
It breaks mine too and that’s why I write. We won’t forget you, Lake Charles, nor you, Southwest Louisiana.
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About the author
Johnna Crider is a Baton Rouge artist, gem and mineral collector, member of the International Gem Society, and a Tesla shareholder who believes in Elon Musk and Tesla. Elon Musk advised her in 2018 to believe in the good. Tesla is one of many good things to believe in. You can find Johnna on Twitter