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The Unexpected Item I Brought When Evacuating During Hurricane Ida

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Imagine you only have a few hours, if you’re lucky, to pack up the essentials and irreplaceables, throw them into your vehicle, and leave for higher ground. What are you bringing? Unfortunately, myself and many southeast Louisiana residents know our answers due to Hurricane Ida’s recent visit. Most residents would give you some variation of the following list: the important papers, some family pictures, water, three days of clothes, the special things that can’t be replaced, snacks for the long car ride, and booze. For me, my answer was: my important papers, many snacks, some real food, many bottles of water and Powerade, pictures from my childhood, my TEDx speaker trophy, and about four days worth of clothes.

When I pack clothes for evacuations, I make sure to bring t-shirts that mean something to me. That if I were to lose everything, I’d still have something tangible to represent what’s important to me. With that said, the first t-shirt I packed was my black #westutter t-shirt from the National Stuttering Association (NSA). I find it interesting because several years ago I would’ve left it at home and thought nothing of it.

For me my #westutter shirt is so much more than a comfy t-shirt. It’s a tangible sign of how far I’ve come in my journey with stuttering. Years ago, the only time I would’ve worn that shirt is if I knew I’d be wearing a sweatshirt over it. Now, I wear it proudly for all to see. My #westutter shirt reminds me that I’m not 1 of 7 billion people who stutter, but rather 1 of the 7 million incredible people who stutter. It reminds me that I’m a part of a group that’s so much bigger than me. Lastly, it reminds me and other people who stutter that we are not alone.

Yes, it’s easily replaceable, however; what it means to me is too essential and irreplaceable to be without for even a day.

My family and I are safe and OK. Our houses had very little damage. However, many people in southeast Louisiana are not as fortunate and could use some good. If you can be the good for someone, then please be the good.  The biggest area that needs some good is the bayou region. These cities are part of the bayou region: Cocodrie, Chauvin, Montegut, Bourg, Dulac, Dularge, Houma, Schriever, Gray, Thibodaux, Raceland, Lockport, Larose, Lafitte, Galliano, Golden Meadow, Grand Isle, and Port Fourchon. If you can help these areas, then please do.

Getty image by Mike Mareen.

Originally published: September 1, 2021
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