Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Houma Courier on helping those impacted by Hurricane Laura:
Hurricanes Laura and Marco both spared Terrebonne and Lafourche the major damage that had looked possible, even likely, early last week. At one point, forecasts indicated both storms could make a direct hit in one or both parishes.
Marco changed for the better, fizzling before making landfall Monday evening near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Laura, as everyone now knows, was less compassionate. The Category 4 storm devastated Lake Charles and surrounding communities early Thursday morning, leaving a path of death and destruction as it trudged north through Louisiana. The death toll had risen to 16 by mid-day Saturday, most of the casualties in Louisiana.
Those who have lost loved ones are suffering in ways those who have been fortunate enough to never endure such loss can not understand. Meanwhile, it will take months for many Louisiana and Texas residents to recover from the property damage Laura inflicted. Early estimates indicate insured losses could exceed $10 billion.
One of the quickest and most direct ways you can help Laura’s victims is to donate to the Red Cross at redcross.org or 800-RED-CROSS. You can text LAURA to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the relief agency. Charitynavigator.org is a great resource to find trustworthy charities and agencies seeking donations for relief and recovery.
Money donations are almost always the best way to help, as aid organizations can use it to pay for the items and services people need most as they work to rebuild their lives. Sending clothes, hygiene items or food might seem like a good gesture, but you will not be certain those items are top priorities or whether they are needed at all. Some groups have also changed rules about such in-kind donations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you do choose to make such an “in-kind” donation, the Red Cross asks that you call first, and it’s a good idea to do the same with any other aid agency. That’s especially true amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when agencies want to ensure that items intended for storm victims have been handled and delivered safely, in a way that won’t spread the virus.
Terrebonne and Lafourche residents know all too well the mental, financial and emotional tolls a hurricane can take on a community and its people. Many noted that Laura took a path remarkably similar to Hurricane Rita 15 years ago. That storm flooded more than 10,000 homes in Terrebonne without ever coming closer than 150 miles to the parish.
They remember what a godsend it was to receive help in so many forms -- a hot meal, help cutting away downed trees, cleaning supplies and so many more items and services people often take for granted until disaster strikes.
Now is the time for those who are able to reach out and help others enduring similar hardships.
The Advocate on the death of Trayford Pellerin:
Trayford Pellerin’s death on the hard pavement of an Evangeline Thruway gas station lot is tragic for many reasons, not the least of which his family and friends will miss their loved one. All people of good will ought to be troubled by the fate that Pellerin, just 31, met Friday night in Lafayette.
That his death was avoidable is likely, too. State Police have been charged with investigating the facts surrounding Pellerin’s case, which included his reportedly peculiar and potentially dangerous behavior — he was carrying a knife and apparently was menacing enough that police were called to the scene — and which ended in his shooting, which involved several police officers.
That does not mean that officers are necessarily at fault. They responded when called; they attempted to no avail to slow Pellerin’s feared aggression; they followed him for almost a half-mile and may have only fired when it appeared that he was headed into a second gas station, still armed, where staff and customers were inside. For whatever reason, he did not follow police commands to drop his weapon.
Could they have done more? The NAACP believes so, and if that is the case it may prove valuable to law enforcement to learn how things might have been done better. That State Police report may help.
The public should understand that factors surrounding Pellerin’s death, if proven to be true, may have promised no satisfactory ending to his story. Police are obliged to protect the law-abiding public. If Pellerin followed police commands, he might be alive today. State Police will tell us more about the facts and case after what should be a complete, thorough investigation.
When family members lose a son, grandson or brother, they may never find answers that will satisfy them. Suggestions that police could have or should have taken other steps may be correct — or not. The investigation will tell us more.
Nonetheless, we regret that he died and hope his family can find peace in the days ahead.
Protesters over the weekend demanded justice for Pellerin. Marches that spilled out into busy streets were dangerous for all. The local chapter of the NAACP tried to thwart trouble and cautioned unruly protesters — they were out-of-towners, the NAACP said — that they were hurting the cause. City leaders would do well to listen to the NAACP’s leadership.
We respect the right to protest — it’s rooted in our Constitution — and respect every right intention of those who marched peacefully. With storms bearing down on the Louisiana coast, though, we hope vigilant protesters will await the State Police report, which should tell us much about the circumstances of Pellerin’s death.
The American Press on the census:
If the Lake Charles area is undercounted in the 2020 census by just 5 percent, that could mean a loss of $15 million in federal funding to area agencies over the next decade. Unfortunately, the national response rate so far is only 64 percent, and Louisiana is 6 points behind that at 58 percent.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said falling short in the count could adversely affect funding for schools, roads and hospitals. Losing another member of Congress is another possibility, and Louisiana has lost too many already.
Citizens are required by law to answer the census, and it takes only about 10 minutes to do it online. A census worker will definitely visit those who don’t respond. Data collection will end Sept. 30, which is a month sooner than previously announced, so time is running out.
Janea Jamison, director of the Count Me In campaign of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, said every time someone goes uncounted, Louisiana loses out on $2,291. The coalition is a non-partisan, non-profit statewide organization that said it wants to shift power back to the people.
Jamison, whose comments appeared in The Advocate, said the national response rate is the lowest in modern history, requiring census-takers to collect in-person responses for more people than ever before. She said only 74 percent of Louisianans have an at-home internet connection.
Recovery from the coronavirus pandemic could be hampered, she said, if Louisiana is underrepresented in the census. It increases funding for health-prone states with a high poverty rate, “and Louisiana desperately needs every dollar of federal funding we can get.”
Jamison said it is especially important to count black, brown, and indigenous and immigrant communities because when they are under-represented benefits are given to other communities.
“The census is the foundation of our democracy,” Jamison said. “When done correctly, it benefits everyone. We must give all our communities, and the Census Bureau workers, the time they need to produce a complete count.”
A recent report by The Associated Press said census takers are running into roadblocks in their efforts to make accurate census counts. Some residents won’t answer the door, and others refuse to give the complete information that is necessary.
“Complete the census if you haven’t already, urge your family, friends and neighbors to do the same…,” Jamison said. “The future of Louisiana and our country depends on it.”
We plan to keep reminding our readers about the importance of the census, and we hope they will take that responsibility seriously for their own benefit.