Dealing with Disaster - Franklin helps Franklin
The floods brought volunteers from Louisiana up in 1993 and the hurricanes prompted volunteers from Missouri to take supplies down this year.
One school supply at a time. The big vehicles at New Franklin Elementary looked different in '93. A truck full of supplies from Franklin, Louisiana. For flood victims, among the debris, this is the start of our trip from New Franklin, Missouri to Franklin, Louisiana.
This year, New Franklin Elementary principal Vikki Brent and her kids returned the favor.
"It's always a good feeling to give. Especially more so after you have received," Brent said.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the kids all immediately wanted to know what they could do. So the kids from New Franklin Elementary piled school supplies into their principal's trailer to help kids in Franklin, Louisiana.
At least every kid in elementary brought at least something for them.
"I gave a backpack for the school, 4th grader Alex Holem said.
It was a school supply Alex Holem had no trouble giving up.
"So they could have something to use. Because they didn't have anything. All of their stuff got destroyed," Alex said.
Profound words from a little boy whose family knows the emptiness of disaster.
"I know that my grandma's houses got destroyed," Alex said.
In 1993, Alex's great grandmother stood outside her house. As three volunteers from Franklin, Louisiana helped her clean up.
12 years later, she's happy to see Alex giving back to people in the town that meant so much to her. (Peggy heyingAlex holem's great grandmother)
She hopes he lears... "To be giving. And have feeling for the other person that has nothing, absolutely nothing, Peggy Heying said.
The Lakeview neighborhood from New Orleans used to be home for Deja Fernandez. Now she feels right at home in Franklin, Louisiana.
"We didn't have anything. We were displaced," explained Deja's mom Shannon Fernandez-Blatcher. "We're looking at facing Christmas and the holidays in a place where we've never been before."
That place, Franklin sat right between the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Aside from losing a few houses, the city had only minor damage. But it served as an evacuation point for more than 1000 families from New Orleans. That's why school supplies from kids like Alex Holem came in handy.
Although we couldn't find Alex's backpack in Franklin, Louisiana, we could find some other school supplies from Franklin and New Franklin, Missouri at LaGrange Elementary.
Deja's pink backpack is full of Missouri supplies. New Franklin, Missouri sent down backpacks filled with stuff like pencils, paper and notebooks. Things Deja's mom didn't think to pack.
"The things that they brought. I mean they were right on target in terms of supporting our kids," LaGrange Elementary School principal Ronald Hawkins says nearly 150 kids from New Orleans like Deja are still using those Missouri supplies.
When that support comes from towns that return a favor, it's wonderful to see that reciprocated back. And that's what human nature should be like. Looking out for one another.," Hawkins said.
"we only packed for two days when Katrina hit, we never thought we would be away from home for this long," said Fernandez-Blatcher.
Alex Holem and his friends now know a little giving goes a long way.
"If nobody sent anything down. They wouldn't have anything. I mean, it would be a really hard life to live for a while," said Holem. "I've learned that Franklin, Louisiana is a lot like us."
You ask what's in a name? It's a new generation of generosity.
"We were one story of many stories of people that wanted to give to keep our country strong and take care of our own people."
And in the true spirit of taking care of neighbors. Each of the people we talked to in Franklin, Louisiana said they'd gladly come back if another flood hit the two Missouri towns again.