By Joanna Puddister King
NATCHEZ – Coinciding with the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida made landfall on Aug. 29 impacting thousands of people from Louisiana to New York. Just after landfall Carrie Lambert, youth director at St. Mary Basilica Natchez and JoAnn Waycaster, religion teacher at Cathedral High School were already talking about relief efforts for the victims of the hurricane.
That night, Lambert prayed hard, as she lost contact with her daughter living in Luling, Louisiana during the storm, as power outages affected millions living in or near the New Orleans area. She also prayed hard about how she could help with relief efforts.
“The next day I woke up with many ideas of what we could do. I believe the Lord provided me with the ideas. I don’t think I could have thought of some of these things on my own,” said Lambert.
So was born the “Takin’ a Bite Outta Ida” campaign, a concerted relief effort of storm victims by St. Mary Basilica, Cathedral School and the Knights of Columbus Bishop R. O. Gerow Council 1034. The campaign is aimed to help river parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, areas in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. One of those special parishes is St. Anthony of Padua in Luling, just outside of New Orleans and two and a half hours from Natchez.
In addition to Lambert’s daughter being a member of the parish, Garry Boudreaux, grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 2409 at the parish, is the nephew of another parishioner at St. Mary Basilica.
St. Anthony in Luling has an extensive relief center set up at the parish, even though almost $200,000 in water damage was incurred at the parish. Even before power was fully restored to the area, the parish was serving hot meals, including jambalaya, sausage sandwiches and other Louisiana staples to those in need. On the parishes Facebook page, Boudreaux welcomes all affected in the area to “come get what you need.”
St. Mary Basilica Natchez is supporting the community with food and supplies, even including tarps, shovels, gas cans and more. And Lambert and the team at the parish are traveling down every 2-3 weeks with more supplies, such as cleaning supplies, food, personal hygiene items, first aid items and other necessities like mosquito repellent and pet supplies.
The Confirmation class at St. Mary has even jumped in to help by assisting with sorting and packing supplies and traveling down with the team.
Father Anthony Odiong of St. Anthony Luling wrote, “On behalf of St. Anthony of Padua, I would like to thank each one of you for all of your prayers, manpower and donations to our church and Luling Community. We are planning to continue to provide meals and much needed supplies furnished by your donations.”
“May God continue to bless us all through our random acts of kindness amid these challenging times. We will keep you in our prayers.”
(If you would like to help with relief efforts, items may be dropped off at the St. Mary Family Life Center (613 Main Street in Natchez) Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m.; Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you would like to volunteer or have questions, contact Carrie Golden Lambert at (601) 920-9538.
Additionally, special collections around the diocese are taking place to help in many affected areas as well. Please check with your local parish for details.)