NEW IBERIA, La. — Larry Doughty admitted to having some COVID fatigue. When Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief teams were given the green light to begin serving again in other states, it was like saying sic ‘em to a dog.
Throughout the summer months of COVID, states took care of their own needs. That left many of the dedicated workers of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief on the sidelines. However, when hurricanes began pounding the Gulf Coast, the call for assistance went out. Doughty was among the first in line to sign up for an assignment.
“Everybody was ready to get out when they turned them loose,” Doughty said. “You had to sign up because it was filling up quickly.”
Doughty, a Kentucky Baptist from Benton, is making his second trip to Louisiana with a chainsaw team in New Iberia. He is the Blue Hat (team leader) of a 19-member kitchen crew and chainsaw team that has been cutting up massive trees that have fallen. Some are leaning against houses, others are blocking driveways and roadways.
“I could have used bigger chainsaws,” he said. “Some of these trees are 40 inches or more around, and a 20-inch saw is the biggest I have.”
Doughty said one tree they worked on was probably 70 inches around. “There are some big ‘ol trees down here, nothing like we see in Kentucky. They’re pecan trees. Some of the limbs are bigger than the trees back home.”
Doughty was among the response teams that came to Alexandria about a month ago because of Hurricane Laura. There are four Kentucky teams in Louisiana, two in New Iberia and one in Lake Charles and Alexandria, he said.
“They are having a hard time getting chainsaw people down here,” he said.
Doughty is a Blue Hat for the first time and he said it carries more official duties like filling out paperwork. He’d prefer being behind a chainsaw or cooking up some food, the area where he cut his teeth on Disaster Relief.
Doughty went to New York after 9/11 and worked with a kitchen crew from the Blood River Baptist Association that was serving 60,000 people a day around the clock.
“That’s how I got my start,” he said.
After that baptism, he has been a regular volunteer with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief and said he has served in New York “four or five times,” including Hurricane Sandy.
The work is good but getting to meet new friends and share the gospel with them is what matters most, he said. Doughty said they gather with families and give them a Bible that everyone has signed. People are thankful, he said, for the help and that softens them to hear about the gospel.
“We’ve had a lot of contacts,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”
Doughty is a member of Lakeview Baptist in Benton and the director of the Blood River Baptist Association. The team is staying at the First Baptist Church in New Iberia. He said the pastor of the church “is kind of directing everything down here.”
He said they have already done about 30 jobs with dozens more waiting.
“We’re in a rough, rough neck of the woods,” Doughty said.