Before Scott Willis and his fellow Knights of Columbus field agents began their cleanup work from the devastation brought by Hurricane Laura, General Agent Dustin Dean called them to meet at their office in Lafayette, Louisiana. Like many events that would unfold in the subsequent days, they began their work not alone but together as brother Knights.
From Lafayette, they drove as a group to Lake Charles, hardly a day after the category 4 hurricane hit the area. They arrived at Willis’ house, fired up their chainsaws and cleared the trees that had fallen on roof and taken off half the shingles. Though the damage to Willis’ home was serious, the homes of many friends were completely lost.
“It’s surreal, really,” Willis said.
Willis joined the Knights of Columbus in 1996 and became a field agent in 1999. Throughout his career, he has helped carry on the mission of K of C founder, Father Michael McGivney, by helping provide financial security to Catholic families. He also shares Father McGivney’s zeal for helping those in need – like with the recent natural disaster.
Like most people in the area, Willis evacuated with his family when he heard the projection that Hurricane Laura would hit Lake Charles as a category 4. But before the storm even hit, brother Knights were looking out for brother Knights.
“Dan Cabirac, our general agent over in Houma, was one of the first ones to call and say ‘Look, are you leaving? Do you need a place to stay?,’” Willis said.
Willis thankfully already had plans to stay with family for the night in New Orleans while the hurricane made landfall back home.
On Thursday morning, Willis returned with his family to Lake Charles where they found their car in the driveway completely crushed by a tree. However, the Willis family considered themselves one of the lucky ones.
The damage to the area was extensive with many neighbors needing help to recover. Willis and other Knights jumped into action. They cleared trees at the Willis’ house, and then helped his neighbor clear her yard. They visited the in-laws of field agent Austin Thorne, whose kitchen was crushed by a giant oak tree, spending hours to clear it before traveling to nearby Sulphur, where they assisted even more brother Knights.
Since then, General Agent Dustin Dean has set up a camper in the parking lot of his agency office, where he and the field agents are now living and working together.
“There’s a lot of work to be done but I’ve never felt like I didn’t have a place to go,” Willis said. “We never felt lonely because everybody else is in the same boat. Field agents, general agents from across the country, people at the home office have called to talk to me about it and offered their support.”
This past weekend, the agents continued their outreach by distributing goods to people in need at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Lake Charles and at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Sulphur.
Through it all, Willis is thankful for his brother Knights and for the many generous people he’s met during this difficult time.
“There are so many good Catholics out there doing what a Knight should be doing anyway,” he said. “They’re already Knights, they just don’t know it.”
Share your story of how your council is helping strengthen people’s faith and offering support during this time. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s monthly archives, click here.
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