Jason Bergeron described the first time he took a “bath” after Ida, which consisted of using wet wipes, “it felt so good. And then I was like, people need showers.” This is when it hit him that they needed to do something to help those affected by Hurricane Ida who didn’t have proper amenities.
Jason is the Treasurer for the Hache Grant Association. The organization has always had the focus to facilitate specific, measurable, and actionable initiatives to improve the quality of life for Terrebonne Parish, however, hurricane relief wasn’t in its original wheelhouse.
Hache Grant Association President, Noah Lirette, said hurricane relief wasn’t anything they decided to do, it just played out that way. They started receiving questions from people about where they can send donations. With help from individuals such as Nick Hebert and the ELH Group, they were getting an influx of supplies ready to be distributed to those in need. Noah is also the owner of Bayou Terrebonne Distillers in Downtown Houma and despite a portion of their roof being torn off, he said they were able to use the distillery as a depot for supplies. This kick-started hurricane relief efforts for the group. One of the first initiatives was the “Bayou Terrebonne Grocery” where supplies were set up in a grocery store fashion. People were handed bags upon entry, and they were able to “shop” for supplies they needed, free of charge. Once Houma started to get a little on their feet, Jason and Noah said the group then focused on running supplies down the bayou to the areas hit hardest, which meant a lot of driving.
They said that it was tough especially when all communication was down. They would have to drive to areas, tag in with people they knew such as Johnathan Foret with the Helio Foundation and State Representatives Tanner Magee and Jerome “Zee” Zeringue. They would learn what was needed in what areas, collaborate with individuals and organizations, and find a way to get them what they needed. At first, they would find where a POD was, deliver supplies, go pick up another load, and continue to push further south into the communities that were hit the hardest. Jason reminisced about going to the fire station in Dulac where Ida blew out the doors, but they were still there distributing supplies. They unloaded there and continued to the lower-lying bayous. Jason said it was a group of them that included board members, and they got good at moving supplies quickly. “We all have our strengths,” he said, “and we all pulled together and pushed forward. We wouldn’t take no for an answer, we knew there was a way to figure it out.”
From there, people were hearing more and more about the Hache Grant Association, and the trust started growing. This meant more and more donations were flowing in and created an influx where they couldn’t separate supplies or deliver fast enough. They were then able to partner with the Houma Terrebonne Civic Center where they had an area to offload trucks, and the organization would come to load trailers of supplies. They then ventured into providing hot food and started receiving items such as generators, chainsaws, fans, dehumidifiers, which were donated by the Home Builders Association. The organization was able to get the supplies to those who needed them proving to the community they can be trusted.
Through donations and fundraising efforts, the association was able to expand its lending hands. Jason spearheaded the PAC camp project in Pointe-aux-Chenes that provides residents with showers and laundry appliances. They also provide anything needed such as soap and towels. He said the toughest part was to find a trailer for the facility, and they finally found one in Lafayette, which was a sign because they couldn’t find one nationwide that would get here on time. After the three weeks it took to get the trailer in, they kicked off the initiative for 30 days and have since then extended the project another 30 days due to extra funding and the impact it has made on the community.
Noah said he believes that downtown is the heart of Houma and the community is losing a lot of cultures and that if we don’t preserve the building and history, we’re going to be in dire straits. The Hache Grant Association is about the quality of life in Terrebonne Parish, but the organization originally started at the heart of the parish, which is downtown. The Maw Maw Walker was an event the organization started to plan pre-Ida. After the destruction was left behind from the slow-moving storm, it was decided to continue with the event, but they turned it into a Hurricane Ida relief effort. It kicked off with downtown clean-up efforts where they were able to collect a dump trailer load of debris. Attendees then put on their muu muus and strutted the cocktail trail that ended with live entertainment outdoors. They were excited the first community event following Ida was a success and raised money to further aid those who need it.
The organization is also planning a Tailgate event on Saturday, November 6. They were approached by Buquet Distributing to do a relief benefit after the Maw Maw Walker and the idea was to do another community-style event to bring people together. Their events depend on what’s going on that season, and they said they knew football is a big thing locally and that’s what led to them centering on the sport. They wanted to recreate the LSU parade route on game day. The adjacent parking lot to the Bayou Terrebonne Distillery will be turned into a green space with big TVs, beer trailers, and a big stage. They will also be hosting a wing eating contest, corn hole, and a nice community area. There will be great food too! Terrebonne High School will be providing the food and all proceeds are going to the athletic program since their fundraising efforts have been greatly affected by COVID.
With Southdown Marketplace having to cancel their annual fundraiser due to hurricane damage, Rushing Media wanted to help provide an outlet for not only local artisans to sell the goods they have been working on all year but to host an event to promote shopping locally. The Market will take place from 10 am to 4 pm on Main Street between Lumiere and Fakier and will work hand-in-hand with the tailgating event.
Noah said they always strive for revitalization and they will continue to gather funds to use in specific ways in order to impact the community where they are needed most. He said, “We want to actually see things change, and use specific projects, and apply the philosophy to relief work.” Remember, Lache Pas La Patate!