Photo and story by: Elvia Alaniz, Red Cross contributor

Speech therapist, Jacie Hyatt, and her son, Kylor, have many things to be grateful for, one of them is being able to smile (even from behind a mask) after Hurricane Laura caused so much damage and destruction in their community. 

Jacie, her husband and their son, along with 13 additional extended family members, coordinated an evacuation out of their homes two nights before the storm hit.  As the clock hit 10 p.m. on that Monday night, the four families coordinated a six-vehicle caravan, which included seven dogs, and made their way to San Antonio. 

“We wanted to beat the traffic we knew would be created once the storm got close,” Jacie said.  She and her family members were able to rent a house in San Antonio and apprehensively waited for Hurricane Laura to make landfall.

Jacie and her husband returned to their home in Orange, Texas on Friday, August 28, to assess the damage while the remainder of the family stayed in San Antonio.  What followed was a horrifying sight of destruction; trees had been uprooted and tossed, leaving branches and debris everywhere that created a heavy, yet brief feeling of helplessness.  That feeling slowly faded as the days passed, replaced with hope and determination as the remaining family members made the drive back to their homes.

The community has been without power since Hurricane Laura struck.  Luckily, the Hyatt family had a generator on hand, allowing them to return to their homes. As they started their recovery process, the family also made their way to a site in Deweyville, Texas, where the American Red Cross was serving meals and snacks. 

“These meals… It is so good to have you, the Red Cross, close by providing warm meals,” Jacie said with a sincere smile.  “There is currently nowhere to go for food here.  So many places do not have electricity and if we cook, we will use up gas reserved for the generator.”

Since the storm, Jacie and her family have used their unrequested free time to clean and organize their property.  They have also been busy helping clean their neighbors’ yards.  Hurricane Laura took a very short time to go from a tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane, leaving destruction in its wake.  But one thing it did not destroy was a family’s determination to survive and their compassion to help others in a time of need.

People are depending on the Red Cross now.  Help people affected by Hurricane Laura by visiting, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word LAURA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.