Knights of Columbus Feed Flood Victims and First Responders

The stormy days of March 9 through 13 will be a time to remember when the “Flood of 2016” was in full force, impacting thousands of lives across north Louisiana.  As the waters rose at an alarming rate, over 3,500 homes were placed on a Mandatory Evacuation Order in Caddo and Bossier parishes.  Schools and some businesses closed as the waters continued to rise, and those evacuated moved into local shelters.
Zac Burson, a St. Jude Parishioner and a member of the Knights of Columbus, saw the first responders working hard to try to stop the waters from flooding out buildings and jumped into action: he made a large pot of jambalaya to go out and feed those in need.  As the unbelievable size of the devastation continued to swell, Zac reached out to Chuck Bennett, who, with the assistance of Bob Bradeen and Paul Murray, were able to load up the Bossier Knights of Columbus Cooking Trailer and enabled them to feed and serve even greater numbers of people.

With the help of Rebecca Nichols, of the Salvation Army of North West Louisiana, Paul was able to secure a location at the Emergency Operation Center in Bossier City located down the street from the nationally televised Red Chute Bayou at the foot of Dogwood subdivision to setup their operation.

“They originally told us the food was for 125 people,” said Paul Murray, Deputy Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus Council 4873. “Luckily, we Knights, when it comes to food, we like a lot of food, so we always over buy.”

And it’s a good thing they did.  “We got there on a Saturday morning and started serving. And that day we served about 400 meals and then the next day we came in and we served, all together it was about 830 meals that we made in that time frame,” said Paul.

“Mostly what we did, was the Salvation Army truck would come in and say, ‘We need 200 meals,’ and we would put them together and box them up and they would go distribute them,” he said.

More than 20 volunteers banded together, cooking endlessly for two days to feed first responders, rescue workers, members of the National Guard, Air Force, city police and sheriff’s department. And of course, they fed the displaced residents who needed a hot meal while they waited to see what damage the water would do to their homes.

“Everyone was so thankful. You know what we’re doing is just a small part compared to what the large portion of people – the responders are doing,” said Paul.  “For us it was a huge honor just to be able to do that little bit. Just to make people feel better. I was in the Army myself. I know what it’s like to go through Desert Storm and be out there not have any warm food. You finally get that first hot meal and it’s a blessing.”

During the floods that overtook North Louisiana, Catholic organizations reached out to those in need across the diocese. Look for more coverage on these events in our next issue.  

by David Bodden and Jessica Rinaudo

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