While much of the rugby community was celebrating after a tremendous display of the sport in the Olympics, tides were changing for a community of people. On August 12, 2016, the region of south Louisiana was hit by flooding of proportions that had never been experienced before. Over the course of one weekend, 6.3 trillion gallons of water hit the city of Baton Rouge and the surrounding towns. Over 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and some 30,000 people had to be rescued. The storm has been considered so devastating that it was declared for Federal Disaster Relief by the US government.
Despite the destruction, there has been a ray of light. People have begun working together to help the cities recovery. Locals have come together to donate clothing, water, and shelter to those in need. Inspired by the unity of the city, the Louisiana Lagniappe, a women’s rugby team made up of members from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, have come together to put their efforts into doing their part for the city. The Louisiana Lagniappe started a charitable fund that will go to assisting the displaced people of region.
Rugby has often taken pride in being the sport of unity and the utilization of camaraderie and support have been the cornerstone of the sport. With this in mind, Nicki Buttons, president for the Baton Rouge Women’s Rugby team, and several other teammates, felt that it was necessary for the club to do something.
“When we play rugby, we play for Louisiana. We are Louisiana proud and it devastates us to see all the destruction caused by the flood, especially after all that Louisiana has been through this summer. We want to help the recovery in anyway possible,” Buttons exclaimed.
The charge has even been picked up by rugby players outside of the state.
Former Louisiana Lagniappe team member, and current Navy woman, Miranda Weimer, is one of many rugby players who are helping to provision her city. Despite being stationed in San Diego, she has helped to take on the burden of sending goods and materials to the affected areas of South Louisiana. A native of Baton Rouge, she found out about the devastation in a direct way, her family.
“My father’s house. My parents’ house is flooding. My grandparents’ house is now flooding. Everything I’ve ever known as a child, all the pictures, all the memories is gone and that’s all of my family, all of my friends,” said Weimer.
The battle is not over yet. There is still so much work left to be done, and still more challenges on the way. With the risk of more weather to come, the city of Baton Rouge, and the towns in the 40 other parishes surrounding them are looking for as much assistance as possible. Now, is the time to focus on what it means to be part of the rugby family. If you want to help Louisiana Lagniappe Women’s Rugby team with their effort to raise money, and provide supplies to those impacted by these disastrous floods, donate to their efforts at https://www.gofundme.com/lagniappefloodhelp. There is no such thing as too much or too little. The call for togetherness is being made to the rugby family.