Volunteers help Lake Bistineau flood victims

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Relief efforts continue by multiple agencies as flood victims start to assess their homes and businesses.

Marlaina Long-Free, left, of the Lake Bistineau News group and relief effort coordinator, helps Theresa Manshack, right, Lake Bistineau resident, gather personal hygiene supplies for flood victims along Lake Bistineau at the Anne Tooke Memorial Library in Elm Grove Tuesday. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
Marlaina Long-Free, left, of the Lake Bistineau News group and relief effort coordinator, helps Theresa Manshack, right, Lake Bistineau resident, gather personal hygiene supplies for flood victims along Lake Bistineau at the Anne Tooke Memorial Library in Elm Grove Tuesday. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
Several agencies came together Tuesday to offer a variety of services and supplies to victims who have lost their homes or cannot get to relief centers. At West Lake Baptist Church in Doyline, free tetanus and flu shots were provided by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on hand to register flood victims for disaster assistance.

Tina Hammett, a member of West Lake Baptist Church, says they are continuing to take in food and supplies for victims in need. She says the Salvation Army and the Minden Church of Christ delivered food boxes, and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams delivered toiletries, housewares, mosquito spray, food, baby supplies as well as cleaning supplies.

Hammett gave special thanks to Webster Parish Police Juror Dustin Moseley, District 12, and District 36 Sen. Ryan Gatti for their efforts in pulling it all together.

“Dustin and Sen. Gatti have done a great job of organizing and getting supplies here,” she said. “If there is a need and we haven’t thought about it, let us know.”

At the Anne Tooke Memorial Library in Koran, several agencies set up camp offering tetanus and flu shots as well as FEMA disaster assistance registration.

Through a grassroots effort of those in the Lake Bistineau community, Marlaina Long-Free took in various supplies for days following the flood, and once nonprofits and government agencies heard about it, they took the load of supplies from her home to the library and set them up in storage pods.

Deputy Director Gene Barattini, of Bossier Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says it was remarkable how the Bistineau community came together while they dealt with some of the hardest hit areas.

“It’s a story about neighbors,” he said. “From our perspective, parish wide, we’re fighting to save people’s lives, their homes, and you take Mrs. Free and her neighbors, it’s one of the greatest American stories of success. It’s neighbor helping neighbor. Like the Alamo, they held the fort down by themselves, but everyone’s resources were stretched.”

The Forward Assistance Center at the library is offering supplies of every variety including clothing, food, toiletries, baby items such as diapers and wipes, water, and even feminine products.

Barattini says the idea of setting up FAC at the library was to bring the assistance to where the people are, because many around the lake still either cannot get out of their homes or have no transportation.

He emphasized, even though it is just over the parish line, supplies offered there are for all the flood victims affected, not only in Bossier Parish, but Webster and Bienville as well.

He says the library is considered a Logistical Emergency Assistance Point for the people of Lake Bistineau.

Since day one, the Lake Bistineau News Facebook page has been the “go-to” place for information on relief efforts, Free says, and it was also how the lake community communicated in the days following the flood.

“’Neighbors helping neighbors,’ that has been our motto from day one since the flooding,” she said.
The library is located at 451 Fairview Point Road in Elm Grove and will be open from daylight until dark, Free said.

West Lake Baptist Church is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For supplies, call 318-745-2411. The church is located at 2587 Highway 163 in Doyline. Hammett says they can try to get supplies out to those who cannot get out.

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