From Devastation to Resilience: Nicholls State University Screens Hurricane Ida Documentary

Nicholls State University recently hosted an exclusive screening of its captivating documentary focusing on Hurricane Ida and the recovery progress titled “Resurgence: From Ida to Recovery.” According to this press release from Nicholls, the highly anticipated event took place on Thursday, May 25, 2023, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., unfolding in the Talbot Hall’s Mary and Al Danos Theater. Attendees were carefully selected through invitation, ensuring an intimate gathering of individuals eager to witness the remarkable film. The evening was not just about the documentary; it featured a coastal expert panel discussion and concluded with a networking reception, graciously sponsored by Entergy.

“Resurgence: From Ida to Recovery” provides a compelling narrative that chronicles the journey of Hurricane Ida through the eyes of those residing in Lafourche, Terrebonne, and Grand Isle. The documentary paints a vivid picture, offering a glimpse into the experiences of residents, government officials, community leaders, and meteorologists who weathered the storm’s fury. Nicholls State University took the helm in producing this extraordinary film, thanks to a generous grant from the Bayou Community Foundation’s Bayou Recovery Fund for Hurricane Ida Relief.

As the fifth-largest storm ever to strike the United States, Hurricane Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of the infamous Hurricane Katrina. With maximum wind speeds reaching a staggering 150 mph, this Category 4 hurricane unleashed devastating winds and a destructive storm surge upon Louisiana’s vulnerable coastal regions. In fact, Ida holds the unfortunate distinction of being the second most-damaging hurricane to hit Louisiana since the catastrophic events of Katrina in 2005.

One cannot discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Ida without addressing the long-standing issue of coastal erosion. Over the years, the Barataria-Terrebonne basins have suffered the loss of approximately 600,000 acres of land. To put this into perspective, Louisiana loses an area equivalent to a football field of coastal islands and wetlands every 100 minutes. The state has experienced the highest rate of wetlands loss in the country, with a startling 80% accounting for the nation’s coastal wetland loss. More than 2,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of Delaware, has succumbed to the encroaching waters, transforming into open water.

In response to this pressing environmental crisis, Nicholls State University is taking proactive measures to preserve and protect the coastline from future storms. The university’s forthcoming Coastal Center, with construction slated to commence in the fall of 2023, represents a significant stride toward combating coastal erosion. The ambitious $21 million project will find its home on the Nicholls campus, precisely situated at the corner of Colonel Drive and Ardoyne Drive, directly across from Calecas Hall.

The Coastal Center will serve as a collaborative space, bringing together scientists from various institutions, including the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Water Institute of the Gulf, and Nicholls’ esteemed biological sciences and geomatics departments. This collective effort aims to advance research endeavors that will help repair and rebuild Louisiana’s receding coastline. The impact of this interdisciplinary collaboration cannot be overstated, as it signifies a united front against the challenges posed by coastal erosion.

In addition to its research initiatives, the Coastal Center at Nicholls State University will actively partner with the Bayou Region Incubator to foster the creation of jobs and small businesses that cater specifically to the coastal community. The expansive 227-acre Nicholls Farm will serve as a real-world testing ground for the center’s coastal research, providing practical applications and invaluable insights.

The documentary screening and subsequent discussions at the event shed light on the challenges faced by coastal communities and the urgent need for proactive measures to address the issue of coastal erosion. Nicholls State University’s commitment to research, innovation, and collaboration is commendable, and its efforts through the Coastal Center are poised to make a tangible difference in the restoration and preservation of Louisiana’s coastline.

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Bayou Community Foundation Awards Funds to Local Nonprofits

Recently, over thirty nonprofit organizations that provide social services to the communities of Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Grand Isle were awarded grants totaling over $300,000 by the Bayou Community Foundation, according to this feature article from Houma Today.

In total, The Bayou Community Foundation (BCF) awarded $327,100 in grants to 32 nonprofit organizations that have been working diligently in the wake of Hurricane Ida to provide social services to local communities.  These grants come from the Foundation’s 2022 Annual Grants Program, and the awarded grant money is used to fund the distribution of food and medicine, resources for baby supplies and parenting, housing for the homeless and women in crisis, mental health counseling, addiction recovery programs, education and job training for at-risk youth, and plenty of other services that assist residents who were most impacted after Hurricane Ida.

Henry Lafont, the President of the Bayou Community Foundation Henry Lafont spoke on the importance of awarding these grants by saying, “faced with unimaginable challenges in the wake of Hurricane Ida, nonprofit organizations are working harder and shining brighter than ever before. Today, Bayou Community Foundation celebrates the local nonprofits that work tirelessly to help the neediest among us and demonstrate the compassion and resiliency of our unique Bayou community. Thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors, BCF is delighted to fund $327,100 in grants to 32 organizations that are feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, protecting the vulnerable, and making our entire community an even better place to call home.”

This year’s awarding of $327,100 in grants adds to the grand total of $1.97 million that has been distributed across 242 grants since 2013. These grants have been awarded for the past 9 years as a part of the Foundation’s Annual Grants Program. This year, the Program received donations from many individuals, families, and businesses local to Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Jefferson Parishes, including The Callais Family Fund, The Gheens Foundation, and Chevron.

The Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Leah Brown, spoke about the business’s donating by saying, “at Chevron, we believe in contributing to the communities where we live and work. We’re proud to support the Bayou Community Foundation and its mission to build and sustain Lafourche Parish, Terrebonne Parish, and Grand Isle. We look forward to seeing the positive impact these grants will produce in the near term, as well as what we can continue to accomplish together in the future.”

One specific nonprofit organization that received an award grant was Lifted by Love, an organization that will use its $14,000 grant to help to provide transitional housing for 25 young mothers who are aging out of foster care with their children. Lifted by Love’s executive director Amanda Oden was able to put the organization’s grant award into logistical terms by saying that the BCF “grant will support our current efforts to provide housing for mothers and their babies, and fund our new Diaper Bank to distribute diapers, wipes, and formula and fill basic baby needs that are costly and in short supply.”

In total, 32 organizations received award grants from the Bayou Community Foundation during a ceremony that was held at the Larose Civic Center in July 2022. The full list of award winners can be found here.

The Executive Director of BCF Jennifer Armand talked about the significance of the awarding ceremony, “this is truly the most wonderful day of the year for Bayou Community Foundation as we witness the power of philanthropy at work! With generous gifts to our Grants Fund and Bayou Recovery Fund, donors have opened their hearts and pocketbooks to help sustain these critical nonprofit programs and support our community on our road to recovery. We thank our grantees for their important work and our donors for making today’s grants possible. Giving makes great things happen!”

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Benny Cenac Supports The Bayou Community Foundation and the Completion of the First Two Homes in Dulac for Hurricane Ida Victims

The Bayou Community Foundation (BCF) and community volunteers recently celebrated the completion of the first two homes built in Dulac, Louisiana through the Foundation’s Hurricane Ida recovery programs, according to The Houma Times.

The dedication ceremony allowed for residents, state and parish leaders, and nonprofit partners to come together and celebrate the building of the first two homes to come out of the BCF’s many partnerships and recovery programs centered around Hurricane Ida. Many sponsors, donors, volunteers, and community partners collaborated to bring these two homes from being nonexistent to ribbon-cutting quality

The team at Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) built both homes in Dulac thanks to a $850,000 grant from BCF’s Bayou Recovery Fund for Hurricane Ida Relief, a $100,000 from long time BCF supporter, Benny Cenac, and other community donations.  Also contributing, was support from the Governor’s Hurricane Ida Relief and Recovery Fund.

What’s remarkable about this project is that the grant funds merely were used to purchase building materials, while the actual construction labor was provided at no cost by MDS volunteers. Outside of MDS, homeowners contributed both insurance costs and FEMA proceeds they received toward construction costs, and appliances were donated by the nonprofit, Rebuilding Together Bayou. All of this community collaboration resulted in the construction and unveiling of two homes for families, such as Abraham and Robin Parfait and their two sons, who lost their home along with all of their belongings after Hurricane Ida’s winds ripped off the roof of their family home.

Money raised for the Bayou Recovery Fund will allow MDS to ultimately construct 10 new houses and complete 40 or more major home repairs in Dulac. This will allow for 50 families to be able to return home after retreating from Hurricane Ida’s ravaging of the area.  “After Hurricane Ida made landfall here on August 29, Bayou Community Foundation recognized that our community’s recovery depended on providing homes for the neediest who lost so much. We are grateful to MDS for sending volunteers to Dulac and working with us to fill this critical housing need,” a statement from Bayou Community Foundation President, Henry Lafont, read.

Looking forward, MDS built the homes to withstand future storms that will hit the area. Ranging from two to three-bedroom homes, these houses are built for storm resilience as part of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes “Strong Homes Initiative.” This initiative provides donated services along with products to upgrade homes to be of the IBHS Fortified hurricane wind standard, meaning that these houses can withstand up to 160 MPH winds and are elevated to well above the FEMA requirements.

At the Dedication Ceremony, it was announced that multiple donations were received. According to a press release from BCF, one major donor to the BCF Bayou Recovery Fund announced a challenge grant designed to continue the funding of home rebuilding and repair work in Dulac this fall. According to The Houma Times, “the Ray & Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust Fund has committed $500,000 to support the project with the challenge that BCF raise an additional $500,000, providing at least $1 million to fund another building season with MDS beginning in October 2022.”

Benny Cenac’s support of Bayou Community Foundation

 Arlen “Benny” Cenac has been a longtime supporter of the Bayou Community Foundation and the work they do to sustain the communities of Lafourche, Terrebonne, and Grand Isle. In addition to his most recent donation of $100,000 for recovery efforts made post Hurricane Ida, he also made a sizeable donation during the height of the pandemic to assist businesses dealing with the complications of shut downs and quarantines. In addition to countless other donations and acts of support, Benny Cenac is proud to be a founding member of the Bayou Community Foundation. BCF was founded in 2012 by a group of business leaders and philanthropists who recognized a need for a community foundation to strengthen human services, education/workforce development, and coastal preservation efforts in the local area, and to assist in natural disasters and other emergencies.

If you are interested in supporting Bayou Community Foundation and the Bayou Recovery fund, please visit to make your donation or get involved.

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