(10/28/20) LACASSINE, La. — Cattle owners trying to recover from two hurricanes in two months got help on Oct. 27 with donated supplies to rebuild.
The aid was coordinated by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Louisiana Farm Bureau. Also, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry provided the location and personnel to assist with the loading. McNeese University students helped with loading.
Pousson said donated materials came from across the Gulf Coast, including Florida and Texas. “Some of it was free, and some of it they had to pay the costs of the material and shipping,” he said.
Some of the donations came from agriculture companies, but individuals also helped. “Some people raised money to buy stuff,” Pousson said.
The fencing materials distributed for the day probably provided enough barbed wire and posts to rebuild 10 miles, he said. Another distribution date is likely, with more donations coming.
The people who came for the materials all had their stories about damage to their homes by hurricanes Laura and Delta. Pousson knows well what they’re going through, as his own home in the Sweet Lake area needs extensive work. “My house is missing a roof,” he said.
Many of the people had their own stories about the storm and the destruction it caused on their places Meaux said. He could relate because his home was badly damaged, too. “About one out of every three, their houses were torn up pretty badly,” he said.
This wasn’t the first time that many of them had to rebuild and start over. “A lot of them are resilient, ready to put their posts down and start again,” Meaux said.
Feed supplements, wire fencing and some fence posts were donated and available for free. Large bundles of fence posts obtained by the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association were available at cost.
Mike Montie picked up a load of posts to rebuild about 9 miles of fencing so he can return his herd of 125 head of cattle to Sweet Lake.
“It will take more posts than this, but it’s a starting point,” he said.
Many livestock owners have temporarily relocated their cattle to pastures farther inland, and their herds can’t be returned until fences are rebuilt.
Will Little, of Grand Chenier, was picking up fencing supplies. He said he’s living in Sweet Lake in a camper, but he hopes to return to Grand Chenier. “I will be as soon as I get some electricity,” he said.
Little has about 80 head of cattle, but he once had 400 before Hurricane Rita hit 15 years ago, followed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. “They keep knocking us down,” he said.
He estimated he has 5 to 6 miles of fencing to rebuild, but he’s done it before. “This will be the third time,” Little said.
Agriculture students from McNeese State University were among those who volunteered to help load materials. Londyn Kolder, a master’s degree agriculture student at McNeese, was among the volunteers. “They said they need help, so we showed up,” she said.
Her house was destroyed by Hurricane Laura. “I’m just crashing on a friend’s couch for now,” she said.
Bubba Richard and Greg January, both of Grand Chenier, were getting fencing supplies and mineral supplements for their herds. They share 300 acres of pasture near Grand Chenier where they lived before Hurricane Laura.
January said he’s trying to rebuild his place while living two hours away in DeRidder.
They have their cattle on pastures in Iota and Fenton after landowners there offered land. Richard said he knew one of the landowners, but he’d never met the other one before.
“I never met him until after the storm. They came with open arms to help,” Richard said. “There’s no way I could ever repay these people.”
He said the generosity demonstrates a strong bond in the agricultural community.
“When times get hard, people come together and step up to the plate to help others out,” Richard said. “I hope I can help them in the future.”
Jimmy Meaux, LSU AgCenter agent in Calcasieu Parish, at right, talks with cattle owner Will Little, of Grand Chenier, about obtaining fencing materials to help rebuild. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
Mike Montie, of Sweet Lake, loads a bundle of fence posts onto a flatbed trailer. Like many others, he needs to rebuild fencing so he can move his cattle back to his pastures. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
Bubba Richard and Dexter January load new barbed wire fencing for their 300 acres of pastures at Grand Chenier. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
Bubba Richard’s son, Grady, cinches a strap on a bundle of fence posts. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
Bradley Pousson, LSU AgCenter agent in Cameron Parish, fills out paperwork for donated items distributed to cattle owners. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter