ARABI, Louisiana — While Entergy focused on power lines in Arabi Thursday, neighbors were focused on neighbors.
The Krewe of Red Beans staffed up to help out at its Bywater “Beanlandia.”
Members of the 9th Ward Black Hatchet Mardi Gras Indian Tribe were on hand to receive donations from community members to go to Arabi residents in need.
“It’s real cool. You get to help people, you know, especially during a time like this,” said Chuck Jones, who is better known as Wild Walkanela in the community. “We’re going to Walmart or whatever store, buying every supply that they need, and bringing it over here and getting it directly to them.”
He helped stack up rakes, tents, lanterns, chainsaws, and other essentials, as well as receive donations, dropped off by people hoping to help.
“I had 42 pounds of beans, red beans. I needed someone to cook them and feed some people,” said Jo Ellen Ross, a Camellia Brand employee who turned in a donation to Krewe of Red Beans.
Jones and Alphonse Robair drove the donations, their third truck-full of the day, to a home in Arabi serving as a center for mutual aid. The supplies are then given out, no questions asked, to whoever needs them.
“Chalmette and the Lower 9th Ward is only separated by train tracks. So, these are my neighbors, and just coming helping our neighbors out is just great,” said Robair, who is better known as Big Chief Dowee of the 9th Ward Black Hatchet Mardi Gras Indian Tribe.
The neighborly feel was on tap on St. Claude, too, with live, acoustic music and a cash-only bar
New Orleans Mutual Aid Organization Imagine Waterworks gave out food and stacks of things like hygiene supplies and over-the-counter medication to those in need.
Klie Kliebert is Executive Director of Imagine Waterworks. They said what many people are hoping for is a quick break from the tough reality of rebuilding again.
“I think we’re seeing a lot of people asking for mental health resources actually; folks who were both hit through the tornado, but also people who weren’t who are very scared because they went through Ida,” said Kliebert.
“Folks are just wanting prepared food and to be kind of be given a minute to say what they need,” they said.
As dozens of utility trucks buzzed out front of Pirogue’s, owner Muriel Altikriti said she’s hopeful the power will turn on soon, but she’s glad to be running the bar on cash in the meantime.
The bar has become an impromptu community hub, offering free meals. Seven full days of meals were paid for by a member of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, and will be available throughout the week.
“We’re feeding the neighborhood. We cooked all our food from our kitchen yesterday and gave it away and did like 300 meals,” said Altikriti.
Still in the dark, but not without bright moments, Southeast Louisiana is lifting up its neighbors in need.
The Krewe of Red Beans will continue its supply drive until Sunday.
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