ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — A silver lining to a hurricane’s aftermath is watching a community come together to help one another. Once again, we are reminded that St. Tammany Parish is more than the sum of its parts. As we faced the worst storm we’ve seen in fifteen years, everyone stepped up to make sure our community was safe.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, or P2E, the developer behind Camellia Bay Resort, got the ball rolling. For months, their representatives have worked on the Northshore, developing a closeness and affection for the place they seek to open their newest resort. When disaster loomed over St. Tammany, P2E CEO Brent Stevens wouldn’t let his newest neighbors face it alone.
P2E used their company’s national logistical network to organize relief sites across the parish and donated over a million dollars to Coastal Relief and Recovery. The developers of Camellia Bay redirected shipments of supplies from other properties they operate across the country. Critical supplies included water from Virginia, shelf-stable meals from the Baton Rouge-based company Focus Foods, tons of ice from Orlando, and generators from Atlanta. The effort was massive, but the resort developers were happy to do it.
“We want to develop on the Northshore because we love the community,” Stevens said. “Our neighbors are hurting, and we’re going to do what we can to help.” Camellia Bay’s initiative and funding gave St. Tammany’s relief efforts a rallying point to unite around. However, no single person can help a whole parish alone. Camellia Bay’s efforts succeeded because hundreds of volunteers within the community stepped up to help.
State legislators like Mary DuBuisson, Patrick McMath and Sharon Hewitt were on the front lines making sure their communities were getting the help they needed. Madisonville police chief Barney Tyrney, along with some of his generous deputies, unloaded supplies for their town in the sweltering heat. In addition, the mayors of both Mandeville, Clay Madden, and Madisonville, Jean Pelloat, offered city assistance to Camellia Bay’s efforts in helping locals.
Local leaders joined in the effort too. Noble-Bates Young and her group, Louisiana Coastal Relief and Recovery, partnered on the effort and were instrumental in supplying volunteers and distributing supplies across the parish. Local entrepreneur, Karen Keel and her dedicated assistant Samantha, used their resources at It’s Promo Time to spread awareness and organize the Slidell relief site.
Bergeron’s Catering provided hot meals to the hungry community. Focus Foods redirected more than a hundred thousand boxes of shelf-stable food to St. Tammany Parish. When water shipments were disrupted, Piggly Wiggly generously offered enough bottles for the distribution to continue. American Honda Motor Company, Power Equipment Division loaned Camellia Bay’s relief sites six generators to charge phones and electronic devices. Patton’s in Slidell even offered up their beautiful venue for an entire week.
Mandeville, St. Paul’s and Fontainebleau sports teams, along with the Knights baseball club, took time away from practice to unload truck shipments. When the Slidell location received a surplus of supplies, Lacombe community leader, Danny Hall, made sure the surplus didn’t go to waste by bringing them to his own distribution site. Senior Chief Mitch Spivey and Chief Warrant Officer James Pappillion with the Naval Special Warfare unit in Stennis Space Center mobilized their sailors and students for the effort. In a true display of Naval leadership, both men stayed late to assist Representative DuBuisson’s personal mission of making sure everyone in St. Tammany got what they needed.
To celebrate the outpouring of help from volunteers, Camellia Bay, with assistance from the Covington mayor, Mark Johnson, held a thank you dinner for the first-responders, parish officials and hundreds of volunteers who made all this possible.
In the end, Camellia Bay’s million-dollar effort to help St. Tammany resulted in 460,000 pounds of ice, 102,160 meals and 400,000 bottles of water for distribution to residents. Any remaining supplies were donated to the Northshore Food Bank and the YMCA to continue helping those in need.
It was a triumph of local leadership, community generosity and St. Tammany resilience. As we move past Hurricane Ida’s devastation, we are also grateful to our neighbors and all those who made thishumanitarian effort possible.