TERREBONNE PARISH, La. — At the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, there are pallets and pallets of water and MREs, and, now, thousands of dollars in donations from Liz Cooke’s Instagram followers.
“They just want to help. It’s awesome,” said Cooke, who goes by LionheartLiz on Instagram.
Cooke is the owner and designer at Lionheart Prints on Magazine Street.
She’s used to delivering messages in greeting cards. But Thursday, made a special delivery to Houma.
She brought cleaning supplies, feminine products, diapers, formula, a generator, and solar lights.
“Bought out the whole Houston REI,” she joked.
All of it is going to those in the bayou still in the dark, and still cleaning up from Hurricane Ida.
“I fit it all in this trailer,” she said. “Six and a half pallets worth of stuff. It’s crazy looking at it all right now.”
The donation effort started when Cooke was in Texas picking up items for her new store, which is coming soon to the French Quarter.
Cooke said she picked up a few things from Ikea, but her uHaul trailer was mostly empty.
“So I just kind of threw it up on my Instagram stories,” she said. “I was like, ‘picking up a trailer in Austin. Let’s fill it!’ And people responded immediately. It was so heartwarming.”
In the first 24 hours, Cooke received more than five thousand dollars in donations. Within 48 hours, 139 people had donated more than seven thousand.
She shopped her way across the south, updating followers as she went.
Eventually, she ended her trip at Costco in New Orleans, stocking up on baby supplies like wipes and formula. Then, she was ready to make the trip to Houma.
When she arrived, a team of volunteers, Houma Police, and Roddy Lerille were ready to help unload.
Lerille is the Director of Parks and Recreation for Terrebonne Parish, but has been running operations at the Civic Center since before landfall.
“It’s been a long haul. But we’re not giving up, we’re still going strong,” said Lerille.
He says the Civic Center is operating as a central distribution site. There are stacks of water, tarps, and special supplies that are then distributed to almost a dozen points of distribution around the parish.
He says demand for some basic needs has slowed down, but smaller donations – like Cooke’s – will be picked up by local civic organizations and church groups and distributed that way.
Cooke’s donations will go to the Hache Grand Association.
“We know that a lot of businesses have opened back up, a lot of the stores have opened back up. So there’s not as much of a need for water and ice from this place,” said Lerille.
For Cooke, and the dozens of people who donated, it’s all part of being a good neighbor.
“These communities and the River Parishes are what supports this wonderful ecosystem that we call home,” she said.