On Monday, August 28, Hurricane Harvey was still making its third landfall and destruction along Texas with 50″ of flooding in many places within Houston city limits. That morning Justin Gaffrey and Amanda Kaiser met and asked what they could do to help with relief efforts to help friends in Louisiana and Texas get back on their feet.
Amanda spent hours online researching and speaking to over a dozen organizations on the phone in Louisiana. She finally came across the Cajun Navy, who were organized with staging areas and already had a list of supplies that could accept and could not accept, since it was the beginnings of relief efforts and they there were several places they could not even reach yet. They felt they wanted to help and involve the South Walton community, but were cautious about not going into Texas without permissions or escorts from the Cajun Navy and officials from the local government personnel.
“Hurricane Harvey laid heavy on my heart, for I felt like I have acquired many friendships through our clients from Houston,” said Amanda Kaiser, Art Director of the Justin Gaffrey Gallery.
“I watched the devastation taking place with all the flooding, and I did not want to feel helpless,” she said. “Instead, I wanted to put our resources together to help the people of Texas as soon as we can.”
That afternoon, Justin made a sign with a list of donations accepted by the Cajun Navy to deliver to the Texas shelters. These essential supplies would help with their immediate needs for the stores all around were flooded and unable to open their doors. These donations were part of the first wave of relief for Hurricane Harvey victims.
Once there was a game plan, social media postings circulated that included necessary details of acceptable donations for the Cajun Navy. Justin left the van door open with a sign and instructions to leave donations in the van, that would be locked up at night.
It was not long until Justin and his staff realized they were going to need a trailer because the van could not hold the outpour of donations from the community.
Over the next few days donations were collected at the gallery, and by the end of the week on Friday morning, they had enough to fill one van, three trucks, and four trailers. At 1 pm on Friday afternoon, Justin Gaffrey, Jeremiah Campbell, Ronnie Stanley, Kyle Swift and Alex Dahl all drove to Saint Charles, Louisiana to distribute relief supplies.
Here’s how Justin Gaffrey described the experience:
“We were to rendezvous with the Cajun Navy at the St. Charles Convention Center. The Cajun Navy directed us to a shelter in need in Western Louisiana to distribute supplies. The following morning, we went to the disaster relief center organized by the Church of the King in St. Charles who were working in coordination with the Cajun Navy. We dropped the rest of our donations and reloaded our four trucks and trailers with relief supplies and stopped at the Delta Downs Casino where they added more donated supplies to go to Nederland, Texas. We observed that the supplies went to people in immediate need of picking up before they had a chance to hit the table. Everyone in Louisiana and Texas gives thanks to all of you who helped.”
Since Justin’s return from Texas, he has been working and completed a new piece titled ‘Help’. This piece below depicts different kinds of people in humanity that came together to help Texas. This painting is dear to his heart because it felt like everyone had put away their political differences for one common goal – to ‘Help’ human kind with open arms.
For anyone one who wants to continue to help, please connect with Church of the King. This group works with the Cajun Navy and is running a highly coordinated and organized effort to help with disaster relief. The Cajun Navy will be running a recovery effort now by assisting people to get their homes in order, and they will need items from cleaning supplies to sheet rock as well as volunteers to help.