Jeff Masters Hurricane Blog

How Hurricane Ida survivor Melissa Bright is helping to rebuild her community » Yale Climate Connections

In 2021, Hurricane Ida devastated the small coastal Louisiana community of Convent in Saint James parish.

“A lot of people were displaced,” says resident Melissa Bright. “A lot of people had roof damage in my community.”

She says the hurricane tore the roof off her parents’ home.

In the days and months after, help was scarce. So despite having no experience, Bright began making repairs by herself.

Then, she says, help arrived in the form of the Louisiana Just Recovery Network. It’s a network of environmental groups and volunteers that formed to help people rebuild their homes after the disaster.

By volunteering with the group, Bright learned how to demolish houses, hang drywall, lay flooring, and eliminate mold. She helped repair her parents’ home, along with other homes in her community.

Now she is employed full-time by the Louisiana Just Recovery Network as a community construction coordinator.

“I enjoy doing the type of work that I’m doing because I feel like I have a purpose,” she says “I’m helping people.”

And she’s helping strengthen her community’s ability to rebuild and recover after extreme storms, which are growing more frequent as the climate warms.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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