An unsung hero during Hurricane Ida

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I’ve been told the first year of marriage is the hardest. That hasn’t been the case for me. I think marriage has been the only easy part of this past year.
It’s been my foundation and my peace through multiple waves of a global pandemic, the loss of my grandmother, and widespread destruction from Hurricane Ida, which did a number on both of our childhood homes.
The first hint of sunrise had not yet touched the sky as Matt helped me load my suitcase and a box containing our marriage license and other important documents into the back of my car on August 28.
Both of our jobs require us to work during hurricanes. The difference is that I was working on my laptop from inside a hotel room in Florida, while my husband was on the ground in St. Charles Parish, risking his own safety to serve others.
There have been countless unsung heroes in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Police officers in St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes have been visible in the community during every step of the recovery. Matt wears the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office emblem on his shirt not as an officer, but as an IT technician who keeps everybody connected during emergencies. He and his team were responsible for maintaining generator power during the storm and relocating critical equipment from the severely damaged courthouse. He’s in charge of installing the programs that officers use every day, as well as the bodycams that document interactions between officers and civilians.
For nearly three weeks, Matt slept on a cot inside of his office and worked 12-hour night shifts that sometimes stretched as long as 16 hours. He worked diligently through weekends and even on Labor Day. Once his shift would end, rather than retiring to his cot, he would get in his car to check on houses for all of his loved ones.
The day after the storm, he walked around fallen trees and powerlines to assess the damage at our house. While I was evacuated with my parents and our dog, he was meeting with the adjuster, getting a tarp on our roof and coordinating with volunteers for debris pick-up.
He made it just as much of a priority to take care of both of our parents’ houses after the storm and report all damages, even when it wasn’t easy to be the bearer of bad news.
Since power has been restored, Matt has helped my parents haul heavy items from the attic down the stairs and to the road. He’s delivered hurricane relief items to his displaced parents, and he helped me set up a work-from-home space while we were dealing with challenges from long-term Internet outages.
As we celebrated the first anniversary of our marriage on October 11, 2021, all I could think was how lucky I am to have a loving husband who would do anything for me and our family. After facing so much together at the beginning of our marriage, I think we can overcome just about anything.

Brooke R. Cantrelle is the news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR newspaper. She can be reached at brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.