LAKE CHARLES, LA. — After Hur­ri­cane Lau­ra hit in late August, a local chem­i­cal plant erupt­ed in flames. The fire, one of 31 post-Lau­ra oil and chem­i­cal leaks report­ed, sent up plumes of smoke and chlo­rine gas. Louisiana offi­cials told res­i­dents (many of whom had lost pow­er or their homes) to shel­ter in place and turn off their air con­di­tion­ing in the sum­mer heat to avoid the fumes. 

How do you shel­ter in place with no shel­ter?” KD Minor, a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er from Lake Charles, asked dur­ing a vir­tu­al con­fer­ence in August. Minor began coor­di­nat­ing relief before Lau­ra hit, pro­vid­ing res­i­dents with gas mon­ey to evac­u­ate. Oth­ers matched her con­tri­bu­tions, and “$5 turned into $1,000,” which Minor dis­trib­uted through For­ev­er Cal­casieu, a mutu­al aid net­work. Minor is still help­ing peo­ple get assis­tance as hur­ri­canes bat­ter the region. 

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