After Hurricane Ida, Standing Up to Bridge the Gap

Stacy "Brooklyn" Corbett

In his first deployment with Team Rubicon, a Greyshirt finds meaning in service that goes beyond heavy lifting.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to participate in Operation Won’t Bow Down in Hammond Louisiana. 

Operation Won’t Bow Down was Team Rubicon’s response to Hurricane Ida, which swept through cities like Hammond, LA, in late August of 2021. From early September to mid-October Greyshirts mobilized to Hammond, where we provided muck-outs, roof tarping, and debris removal across Tangipahoa Parish. 

This was my first deployment with Team Rubicon, and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. It left me with more questions than answers about disasters and relief in the U.S. But, it also invigorated me with a renewed passion to explore opportunities to reach those answers.

Working with a squad of other Greyshirts, we were able to provide much-needed relief for some of those very hard-hit areas in and around Hammond. Individuals of different backgrounds and varying talents came together as one, to begin to help put parts of Louisiana back together again. I even received an impromptu nature education on banana spiders, love bugs, and fire ants. (Yuck!)

Roads were cleared, trees were felled and cut, roofs were tarped, and debris was swamped away. All in a good day’s work. Except for me, it wasn’t about the manual things. For me, as it likely was for many, it was about the people. It was about being able to meet with those we were serving and provide them with a glimmer of hope that the worst indeed may possibly be behind them; proof that someone does indeed care. 

It was about the single moms, the elderly dads, the widows of veterans, and countless other families who would be considered the underserved even before this disaster struck. It was about being able to help connect individuals in lower-income areas with resources to help them regain lost items, lost dignity, and lost hope. 

Greyshirts clear debris from Hurricane Ida near Hammond, LA. Photo by Marcus Wennrich.

Sure, there may be other organizations that specialize in such things, but sometimes there’s a disconnect between those resources and how to attain them. Being able to help even one person bridge the gap mattered more to me than anything else. Allowing someone to breathe easier knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel is, in my opinion, just as important, and lifts a burden heavy enough to rival any 1,000-pound pine tree blocking someone’s path. TR may still be in its infancy as far as disaster organizations go. But I’d love nothing more than the opportunity to help it grow into a major entity in the overall effort to help communities recover from calamities.

Overall, I can say that I was grateful for the opportunity and that I won’t hesitate to do it all over again if given the chance—although I hope and pray that need never arises. There are times when I can sit back and smile and be proud to be a part of this world. This was definitely one of them.

Editor’s Note: Won’t Bow Down may have been Corbett’s first deployment with Team Rubicon, but it wasn’t his last. In January, he also deployed with Team Rubicon in response to the December tornadoes in Kentucky.

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