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Community Support in Crisis: United Way’s Response to the Louisiana Wildfire

In August 2023, a massive wildfire known as the Tiger Island Wildfire spread across Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. It destroyed over 32,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire in Louisiana's history. The wildfire was fueled by debris left from Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, and it took nearly a month to contain. Many families, who make up about 43% of the parish's residents living below the ALICE Threshold, had to evacuate quickly. ALICE families are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and earn just above the Federal Poverty Level but less than what it costs to make ends meet. When these families returned, they found their homes covered in ash and their food spoiled, making it hard for them to clean up and recover.

The United Way of Southwest Louisiana stepped in quickly, distributing grocery store gift cards to families affected by the wildfire. These cards helped people buy essential items like food, water, and cleaning supplies. They also supported the firefighters with supplies like Liquid IV, water, and clothing, which were crucial as they worked long hours to control the fire. Additionally, United Way provided counseling to help families deal with the stress and trauma of the situation.

One resident, Sandra Sibley, a retiree from the area, had to leave her home in a hurry. When she returned, she found her food spoiled and her home dirty with ash. United Way helped her with a $500 gift card to buy food and cleaning supplies. This support was a big relief for her as she cleaned and restored her home.

The response from United Way of Southwest Louisiana showed how crucial community support is during a crisis. Their quick action helped families get through tough times and start rebuilding their lives. This effort highlights the power of coming together to support one another in times of need. If you are interested in supporting this work reach out to your local United Way to learn more.