A Gulfport firefighter said organizing trips to help Louisiana flood victims and first responders reminded him it’s better to give than to receive.
Brandon Necaise, 28, remembers graduating from Pass Christian High School in a trailer after Hurricane Katrina.
“After it happened, we didn’t have food. We didn’t have water. We didn’t have nothing,” said Necaise, who now owns Brandon’s ATV Service in Pass Christian.
He was working at the Gulfport Fire Department a few weeks back and decided to do something.
“I couldn’t just sit back and let others go help in Louisiana,” he said.
He put together Operation Relief, which has made three trips to offer aid while working with other relief teams and volunteers.
Operation Relief collected donations to fill three semi-trucks with food and supplies they delivered during three trips.
“I talked to a woman who told me about three flooded communities that weren’t getting help,” he said. “So that’s where we went. On our second trip, we made our base of operation in Springfield at the home of the woman, who also was a volunteer.”
The trips included giving out food and supplies at Marepaus School and Life Tabernacle Church and in Central, where the team met with firefighters and cooked for them and residents.
In some areas, the team used all-terrain vehicles to deliver food and supplies to people who couldn’t get out because of flood waters.
During the third trip, which ended Saturday, the team cooked 200 pounds of chicken, about 175 gallons of Jambalaya and other food at the Central Fire Department. Plates were given out to first responders and community members.
Feeding a multitude
“We probably fed 2,000 people in Central,” Necaise said.
“People were coming out who hadn’t had any good food in the past week, and we were glad to give them barbecued chicken and the trimmings,” Necaise said.
“It was a blessing for us to feed them.”
It also felt good to help the first responders, he said.
“They were already stressed out working at the station and having to worry about their families back home,” he said. “Feeding them and giving them supplies took a burden off of them.”
The team stopped in Gonzales on Saturday and saw some areas that are still flooded.
“One first responder says, ‘My family’s way off, and I’ve only seen them four times since the flood,’” Necaise recalled.
Team efforts with other teams
Operation Relief also teamed up with Operation Line2Line relief for first responders. The latter group will help first responders repair their damaged homes, he said.
“I feel certain the communities we left are better off,” Necaise said. “It’s been a blessing for me. It’s been a blessing for my crew.”
Some of the team effort included members of the Diamondhead Fire Department and Harrison County Fire Services. Neco’s Market in Pass Christian, Rouse’s in Diamondhead and the law firm of Alexander Van Loon provided significant donations, he said.