The Wharton Police Department parking lot Friday was used as a nine-hour site to help Louisiana victims whose state was struck by a Category 4 storm named Hurricane Ida last weekend. In the process, the police relief drive netted 21 crates worth of supplies, each nearly five feet high.
Some people were still bringing in supplies after the 5 p.m. deadline, with volunteers like Adraylle Watson, Lt. Ben Guanajuato, and others still accepting water and toiletries.
The men, sweaty from their endeavors, were among 30 people, including law enforcement officers, elected officials, church and civic group leaders, and citizens who braved the summer heat and helped dozens of motorists exit hundreds of supplies from their vehicles that included personal hygiene products, items for infants and the elderly, and health supplies, among other items.
Louisiana victims were already too familiar with major storms, and Sunday, Aug. 29 were the recipients of the worst hurricane to strike that state since Katrina 16 years ago to the day.
Remnants of Hurricane Ida, which originated from a tropical wave in the Caribbean Sea Aug. 26, have now caused flooding in the Northeast United States.
Office of Emergency Management coordinators with the City of Wharton and Wharton County last week kept residents here abreast of the tropics, even if the unnamed storm was more than a thousand miles from land. The forecast, however, called for the storm to move into the Gulf of Mexico, striking the Gulf Coast along Texas or Louisiana.
Wharton Police Chief Terry Lynch said residents from both states know what it is like to survive a major hurricane. As the drive began under humid and hot morning conditions, he assisted volunteers like Emelia Lozano, Crystal Rodriguez, and Regina Phynon, and said Louisiana was there for Wharton during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, “and we reciprocate.”
“It’s the right thing to do, four years ago, we had people come out of the woodwork to help us from all over the country,” Lynch said. “This is our way of giving back to those in need. Louisiana has been hit hard, and they need some help.”
Wharton PD teamed up with Matagorda County Precinct 6 Constable Bill Orton, who in the past has coordinated relief efforts for several disasters. Orton will be picking up these supplies and they will be delivered to a centralized location in Louisiana for relief for victims.
The Wharton County Sheriff’s Office used its Elm Street location for people to bring in items all week. As supplies were being delivered to the WCSO, they were placed in a trailer. They will be delivered next week.
Hurricane Ida made landfall with 150 mph sustained winds, and to date is the sixth costliest ($50 billion) storm on record. According to news reports, there are 66 deaths associated with Ida, most in New Jersey (25), New York (17), and Louisiana (12). Deaths have also been reported in Pennsylvania (5), Mississippi (2), Alabama (2), Maryland (1), Connecticut (1), and Virginia (1).