Former New Orleanian gives Arkansas tornado victims a red beans Monday

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 6:33 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 29 at 7:04 AM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Natural disaster damage is nothing new for New Orleanians, and fortunately for folks in the Little Rock area, one of our own is in their backyard to offer a helping hand through a deadly tornado.

One shelter was able to feed more than 200 with red beans and rice Monday, because despite the devastation around the Little Rock area, one man who knows all too well about natural disasters, is offering help New Orleans-style.

In the middle of downtown Conway, there's a Mardi Gras mambo going on.

Inside the WhoDat Shack, there's another New Orleans staple being cooked up, helping strangers in a time of need.

“When this happened here, the first thing we thought of….we need to give a little back," said Michael Defreitas of the WhoDat Shack.

Michael Defreitas, born and raised in the Big Easy, wasted no time after seeing his community's devastation in Sunday's tornado. He boiled up a big pot of red beans and sent it to area shelters for lunch and then started on spaghetti sauce for dinner.

"I'm not doing it to be on the news or anything like that. But I just know how it is back home, and when somebody’s in trouble you go help them, and those are my neighbors, they’re three miles away from me, so, they needed help, we're here," explains Defreitas.

People at this receiving shelter near Vilonia say after the night and day they've had, this kind of help couldn't have come at a better time.

"They open their doors to people in need. They did this when the tornado hit back in 2011, I think, and our church is ready to do that again," said Tornado victim Tony Rowlett.

Most of the people running the shelter are also piecing their own personal homes back together, so they're grateful for restaurants like WhoDat shack making this effort a little easier.

Amy Day, a shelter volunteer and also a victim says, "We've just hada big turnout. You couldn’t ask for anything any better. All our companies have brought food and water, so we’re just continually blessed, and, none of us were hurt."

Despite the worst being handed to this community, the best is coming out in its people, home-grown and Naturally N’Awlins.

Despite opening just a week ago, the owner says he plans to keep feeding as long as needed, and because of him one shelter was able to feed more than 200 people with that red bean lunch on Monday.

One of the best ways to give assistance to storm survivors is by donating to the American Red Cross. Give a donation by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or make a $10 donation by texting the word "REDCROSS" to 90999.

You can also give to the Salvation Army which has launched a specific tornado relief fund. By texting “STORM” to 80888 you’ll donate $10, or by phone, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to donate any amount.

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