By Madelyn Alexander
Hurricane Ida brought devastation to the people of Louisiana, and when Montevallo local Jessica Frost saw some of the damage, she decided to take action.
Ida made landfall in Grand Isle, La on Aug. 29 and destroyed the homes of thousands of people in southern Louisiana. In the days leading up to landfall, Frost was already figuring out how she could help. Searching Facebook for volunteer groups and donation opportunities was just the start of her involvement.
Frost has been leading a volunteer effort since Ida hit Louisiana. She and her family have been collecting donations for nearly a month now and have taken bi-weekly trips to southern Louisiana to deliver those goods in person. For her first trip on Sept. 4, they were able to take nearly $2,000 worth of donated items to the people of Laplace, La.
Louisiana has always been a “second home” to Frost. Her family is from Louisiana and even though they moved to Alabama when she was very young, they commonly referred to the state as “back home.” Her connection to the state was the start of her interest in following Ida as it moved in.
The night Ida made landfall, Frost followed the storm closely through photos and videos. She saw a post from a young mom with two kids whose apartment was already being destroyed before Ida fully hit.
“Their apartment roof was collapsing, and the rainwater was coming in,” Frost described. “Her phone was dying and she was begging anyone to come help them.”
This upset Frost, who wanted to help but was six hours away. She didn’t sleep that night and kept watching for updates. It wasn’t until 7 p.m. the next day she found out they were safe.
Soon after that, Frost found a Facebook page run by Heather Smith, a resident of Louisiana and team member of the Louisiana Cajun Navy who provided updates about the storm’s impact. Smith’s updates finalized Frost’s decision to take action.
Smith informed Frost of some of the most needed items. This included water, non-perishable food and medical supplies. They have also been supplying generators and gasoline as some areas of the state are expected to go without power for about two months.
Frost had some people donate anonymously. She was contacted by a Facebook profile with no name, who told her that there was an order of diapers for her to pick up from Cowarts in Montevallo, already paid for. When her husband went to retrieve the order, there were several hundred dollars worth of supplies including diapers, gloves and bug spray.
While on their first trip to Louisiana, Frost received another message from the same anonymous donor. They said she had a pallet of water waiting for her at the Pic N’ Save in Montevallo.
“That’s 84 cases of water from just one donor,” Frost noted. “I was in shock for several minutes over this person’s generosity!”
All of the donations are taken to the Louisiana Cajun Navy, a volunteer organization formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many of the volunteers are people with boats who assist with rescues from flooded areas. Part of their mission is to provide support for people affected by natural disasters and help rebuild their communities.
Donations are still accepted and encouraged by Frost, and can be monetary or material. Information about donation drop-off locations or how to send monetary donations can be found on Frost’s Facebook profile, as well as their volunteer group profile, “Central Alabama Disaster Relief Group.”
Frost and her husband intend to take more trips to Louisiana every two weeks for the next two months, the next one being Oct. 2.
On their most recent trip, the Frosts brought their two kids, ages seven and eight, with them. They hope to lead by example for their children and teach them good values.
“We want them to grow up to be the type of people that help others,” Frost said.
The Frosts want to give back to people in need in any way they can. For information on how to help them in the effort, contact Jessica Frost via Facebook.