Starfish Café of Bay St. Louis hosts Hurricane Ida relief event

The Starfish Cafe in Bay St. Louis is one of several businesses that have been busy gathering supplies.
Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 8:05 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - People along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are still recognizing the need to help victims of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana. The Starfish Cafe in Bay St. Louis is one of several businesses that have been busy gathering supplies.

Employees at the cafe worked together Sunday to pack up a truck full of supplies to take to Chauvin, La.

Cafe owner Diana Fillhart said she first discovered the charm of the Mississippi Gulf Coast when she was part of a volunteer disaster relief team from New York after Hurricane Katrina. She instantly felt at home and began putting together an organization to provide job training and life skills to individuals experiencing hardships.

Since opening in Bay St. Louis in 2013, the Starfish Cafe has embodied the resiliency of the community and the opportunity to rebuild better.

Fillhart said she is concentrating on helping the people in Chauvin because she knows from experience that smaller areas are often overlooked. After seeing people living in tents still, she wanted to help however she could.

“I think it’s typical in disasters that usually the smaller places are usually last on the list,” said Fillhart. “It’s just by volume and number of people and all of those kinds of things. We are really focusing on the little places.”

The rest of the story!! We had been contacted by people whose family lived in Chauvin, LA and their need for help. ...

Posted by Starfish Cafe on Saturday, September 11, 2021

Fillhart found it interesting that people in the area didn’t ask for food. Instead, they requested cleaning supplies and buckets to catch rainwater.

“They haven’t gotten that much help and a lot of them are sleeping in tents. Plus they’ve just gotten rained on from Tropical Storm Nicholas so it makes sense. They actually said, ‘We don’t need the food, we’re good on the food,’ because they already live on the land. They’re able to provide that, but what they needed was those kinds of things,” said Fillhart.

Fillhard said she has noticed that there isn’t the same amount of relief for victims of Hurricane Ida as as there was for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The response to Katrina, I don’t think we’re ever going to see that kind of response again, with the magnitude with all the people that were sent. Now, the term is disaster fatigue,” said Fillhart. “People are tired of hearing about all of the disasters and it’s hard, difficult, and emotional. This community hasn’t forgotten it, this community remembers what it was like. Mississippians became the people who came to help us. Now, we’re taking it forward.”

The Starfish Cafe left out Monday taking the items to Chauvin, but they will continue to collect supplies and make deliveries in Louisiana every two weeks as long as they are needed. For those interested in the cause, you can join by clicking here.

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