GALVESTON, Texas - A Galveston chef is cooking up assistance for a small town hit hard by Hurricane Laura.
Vinton, Louisiana had already been swept by widespread layoffs during the pandemic.
“We’re right in the middle of a petrochemical market, and with COVID it closed down. They laid off all those workers [doing] new construction,” says Pastor Don Snider of Christian Life Church.
The town of around 3,000 people was then pummeled by the August hurricane, leaving Pastor Snider bunkered down in his church with more than 40 people who couldn't afford to evacuate.
“It sounded like a freight train hitting the building over and over again,” recalls Snider.
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“Whenever the roof came off, we started putting buckets on the floors and pots,” he says.
Christian Life Church in Vinton runs a food bank, assisting more than 4,000 people a month in its community and the neighboring town of Starks.
The church is expecting more of a need after the natural disaster while guests are having to use bottled water to take showers and flush toilets. It will be an estimated four to six weeks before running water and electricity is restored to the area.
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But about two hours away, Chef Mary Bass has taken down the decorated boards on her business’s windows in Galveston which dodged the storm. She was immediately inspired to help a lesser-known community.
“I knew that there were going to be people who needed help,” says Bass. “These families were going to come back to nothing.”
Another pastor connected her with the Vinton church which sent supplies to Texas in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey.
After speaking with Pastor Snider, Bass put up a Facebook post on her organization’s page, Chef’s Table Charities, asking for assistance and a generator that could run the church building.
“Those generators cost $16,000 to $25,000,” explains Bass. “It was a big ask, and I had one come through,” she says a local politician helped secure the equipment.
More friends and customers responded, some saying they had relatives in Vinton.
In 24 hours, they filled a 12-foot trailer with donations and are preparing to send more in the coming days, along with 30 pans of fresh-baked ziti.
“I really just want to make sure that they know their neighbors to the west love them and want the best for them,” she adds.
Pastor Snider says the small town could especially use large tarps, generators to get people back in their homes, and more food and water.
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“There’s no place to pull from unless people come together. We’ll start putting some of these houses back together. I can tell you it’ll probably be, at minimum to get some normalcy back, a year,” says Snider.
He says that as they work they’ll have faith that some blessings they’ve sent out will eventually come back around.
For more information on Chef’s Table Charities, click here.
To donate directly to the church, click here.