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One Woman’s Mission Brings Hope to Houma Tribal Citizens

HURRICANE IDA: South Louisiana Native Robin Smith Raises Thousands of Dollars to Help Houma Tribe Families (slideshow)

By Sherry Parfait

Hurricane Ida brought a lot of destruction and despair to the people of South Louisiana. My parents and I watched helplessly from Houston, along with other evacuated family members, as our homeland was pummeled by a storm with 150+ mph winds.

After the storm passed through, and news of the storms aftermath began to pour in, I felt compelled to create a Facebook page where I could repost articles published by reporters on the scene, to make it easier for concerned citizens and news media across the country to read articles in one place. This page resulted in an encounter that I consider divine appointment more than chance.

On September 9th, 2021, I reposted to this Facebook page a video a news reporter posted regarding a hurricane victim whose damaged home in Dulac, La. was being ignored because, from the street view, it appeared that the home was unharmed. The interior view told a different story: a whole in the roof, broken rails, an elderly mother in a hospital bed…in the kitchen.

This post moved Georgia resident (South Louisiana native) Robin Smith so much, that she sent me a private message, believing that I was the person who created the video. In her message, Robin shared that she felt like she needed to help the members of the Houma tribe’s hurricane victims, and she had already collected supplies and money to help families.

A mobile home flipped by the winds of Hurricane Ida in the Ashland North community near Houma, La.

Coincidentally (or perhaps, by divine intervention), I was planning to go to Houma and Dulac the following weekend, so I invited Robin to join me. She immediately said yes. This conversation would be life-changing for many people.

Houma Tribe Hurricane Ida Survivors

On Saturday, September 11, my mom and I would meet Robin and her friend Sandy Almerico at the United Houma Nation office in Houma office. Robin brought Sandy, her best friend and nurse practitioner, to treat people who might need medical attention. Together, we saw first-hand the extensive damage the office building suffered: there were several holes in the roofs and ceilings. The roofs were already covered in tarps, but several walls were also gutted because of rain pouring into the building. The office was operating on generator power, so many rooms, including the bathrooms, had no lights.

After meeting staff and touring the office, we headed to Dulac. The hurricane damage we saw in Houma was unbelievable, and it only got worse as we headed down Highway 57 to Dulac.

Now, I have lived through major hurricanes in this area in the past, and the amount of damage left by those hurricanes don’t compare to the level of destruction caused by Hurricane Ida. I had seen some of the storm damage in pictures posted on social media. Seeing it in person is a greater level of shock and awe…and sadness.

Sherry Parfait

The destruction is hard to measure, and I’m thankful that my mom and I were joined by Robin and Sandy because I think I would have lost myself in emotions had we not gone there for the purpose of helping families victimized by this storm. Robin had traveled to Dulac in the past, so she was vaguely familiar with the area; Sandy had not. Even though I grew up here, I always find something different about the community.

Over time, the old houses along Highway 57 leading to Dulac had either disappeared or got some form of makeover. That is what my subconscious expected. The storm damage messed with my mind. Actually, the photos really didn’t prepare any of us for what I saw. We were overwhelmed with sadness and concern.

Robin Smith and Amber Dean

Thankfully, Robin was focused and determined to accomplish what she came to do: help hurting families. While in Dulac, we were able to visit three of the four families that we had planned to see. Those families did not expect what they received… a financial gift funded by compassionate people across the country who Robin know through her personal network. The recipients were overjoyed, we were overjoyed…and we all shed lots of tears.

Robin is one person who, through her own selfless determination, changed many lives for the better in a short amount of time. I’m so thankful to have met her. She has already connected me with other people who have committed to helping the Houma tribe.

Robin and her mom, Roberta “Birdie” Simpson, put together the following slideshow to remember this experience by. It’s a beautiful tribute to the spirit of giving.

Thank you Robin, Birdie and Sandy for all you’ve done for my tribe, the Houma people.

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