What I learned In Louisiana; How To Help People Feel Valued

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I Love Louisiana 

For two years I worked as a full-time representative of my church to help the people in Louisiana.

I helped people and families overcome addictions, conquer fear, and endure heartbreaking sorrows.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The 2016 Lousiana Flood

Shortly before my two-year service was finished, Louisiana (specifically the Baton Rouge area) was tormented by major flooding. 

In two days, many parts of the city received more than 7.1 trillion gallons of rainfall. 
120,000 homes were flooded in one of the worst natural disasters since Hurricane Sandy. I was retasked with saving lives and property in the Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes. 

The temperatures were in the high nineties and the humidity was sultry. I struggled for these strangers to save them and the very homes in which I had been teaching them for the last year. 

The Red Cross and FEMA were providing shelters for people who had been displaced and for almost a week I helped staff some of these shelters in the Tangipahoa Parish.

One wheelchair-bound woman described to me how she woke up alone in her house and was startled to see water flooding into her room about knee-high around her bed. 

With no way to move through the water, she had wondered if anyone would come for her at all. 

This is hard to imagine, but it really happened.

The storm was so sudden. Nearly everyone was caught off guard. People’s lives were thrown completely off balance. 

Destroyed highway in Greensburg, LA

The flood struck around the same time that the 2016 election was starting to pique public interest. As a result, the historic flood was brushed under the rug.

Working directly with people who had lost everything they had, I learned that in most cases people were more damaged by the feeling of being forgotten than losing all that they owned.

Almost everyone that I worked with merely wanted to talk about everything that happened to them. They wanted someone to understand their situation. 

While working in a Red Cross shelter, one man said to me, “I don’t even think my family knows what’s happening to me.”

Lake Ponchartrain 

Timid families walked into the shelter in tight-knit groups clutching trash bags filled with scant belongings to their chest. 

Some came with nothing; their arms hanging down and eyes low. 

However, after a few minutes in the social atmosphere of the shelters, each one brightened up despite the situations at his or her homes. Most of them just felt alone. 

People Need to Feel Understood

One responsibility I had was to keep an accurate headcount in the Red Cross shelter. Because of this, I learned the names of almost every individual who stayed there.

I was surprised how much that meant to some people.

This is where I learned just how valuable communication is.

The mission of communication in every facet is to achieve a greater understanding. 

I have come to believe that nearly every problem can be solved by achieving a greater level of understanding between individuals. 

From a life-saving call for help to the comforting arm around the back, it is through care and contact with each other that we can construct bridges of understanding in even the most hopeless circumstances.

That understanding makes all the difference.

Communication in the Real World

Companies achieve understanding through a Public Relations Specialist who appropriately shares information about the company to the media. 

Journalists generate understanding through the mass dispersion of important information around the globe.

Lawyers balance an understanding between their clients and representatives of the judicial system. 

Communication is one of the most fundamental needs of every human. 

Mastering the ability to create a more perfect understanding between each of us can lead to a higher level of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness between all peoples. 

I profoundly believe this power is a largely underestimated necessity. It is my goal to be a force for understanding in the world today. 

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