When disaster strikes, the community responds. Kali Marionneaux of Port Allen began coordinating a laundry service for energy linemen who are staged off of Lafiton Lane in Port Allen when she noticed the trucks on her work commute. She posted online and found many willing volunteers.
“The response was absolutely—just—incredible. The first day I had 73 women signed up.” Marionneaux reported, and that number has since grown to 102 volunteers. She commented on the efficiency of her fellows, “The women get organized so quickly; we literally were organized and ready to go in a few hours.”
Marionneaux flooded in 2016 and helped with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. She said, “I’ve been there, when I’d lost everything and I know what that’s like.” She also runs a florist business and is used to coordinating events, like weddings. The combination of the empathy she has for those who are in need and familiarity with large events makes her a woman of action. “I’m just one of those ladies—I don’t sit around very well,” she said of herself, “I’ve got to do something.”
“I remember how grateful I was when those linemen came in and turned my electricity on after Katrina and Gustav,” Marionneaux recalled. The energy workers have long days in hot weather and are away from home themselves.
Many other members of the community are helping the linemen on Lafiton Lane. Companies are also stepping up. Dow Chemical and Aramark donated boxed meals for workers which Marionneaux passed out to energy workers in the morning for lunch on the road.
Laundry services were organized for 125 men on 25 different crews. Marionneaux coordinates the picking up and dropping off of clothing and tracks the clothes every step of the way. Signage at the staging site makes it easy for workers to drop off dirty clothing and also pick up completed laundry. Community members who were not able to wash clothes donated snacks and they are also distributed to the workers. “When we return their clothes, everybody gets a snack bag of goodies,” said Marionneaux.