They drove 19 hours to make gumbo for Michigan flood victims

Dated: May 27 2020

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They drove 19 hours to make gumbo for Michigan flood victims

After 17 surgeries from a bone-crushing fall, Dwayne Richard vowed that if he could get out of a wheelchair, he would repay his gratitude with acts of kindness to the world. That's how he ended up in Sanford, Michigan.

His wife, Tabitha, read news of the two dams failing north of Midland last week, destroyed homes and tattered lives in her Facebook feed, and decided the family of four would head north from their home just north of Lafayette, Louisiana.

She contacted the Michigan governor's office and the United Way of Midland County.

The response was immediate, Dwayne Richard said: "We were surprised."

So the handyman and his family drove 19 hours north on Memorial Day, with a U-Haul and truck full of clothes and cleaning supplies. They had leftover donations after collecting to help five families left homeless by a 150-mph tornado at home. 

"When we seen the devastation up here, we thought that would be the best place to bring it. So we packed up and headed on over," said Dwayne Richard, 43, recalling his path through Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio.

The family packed onions, bell pepper, seasoning, chicken and sausage — all the fixins for homemade gumbo — on ice and hit the road.

Dwayne Richard, 43, of Richard, Louisiana, left, stirs up 15 gallons worth of his gumbo as his wife Tabitha looks on at right Tuesday, May 25, 2020 outside of Red Oak Restaurant in Sanford. They drove to Michigan to come help the relief efforts after floodwaters  devastated communities like Midland and Sanford following the failure of two dams that flooded homes along the Tittabawassee River. 


On Monday, they cooked classic jambalaya for flood victims outside a middle school.

Early Tuesday, Dwayne Richard (pronounced re-SHARD) stirred roux in a pot outside the Red Oak Restaurant in downtown Sanford with his son, Taj, daughter, Hannah, and her boyfriend, John Marceaux.

They brought huge pots and prepared everything fresh on-site.

"We packed everything in ice chests and we'll have about 15 gallons worth of gumbo when we're done," he said while cooking, as he talked about seeing rubble and just bare foundations left in places where homes had been swept away.

"Once we finish cooking, we'll clean up and see if they need us. Then we'll pack up and head home. We have more work to do for those families who lost their homes in the tornado," Richard said. "I'm not a super religious person. I have God in my heart."

From left to right, Dwayne, Hannah and Tabitha Richard  drove 19 hours from Richard, Louisiana to cook homemade gumbo for flood victims in Midland on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
From left to right, Dwayne, Hannah and Tabitha Richard drove 19 hours from Richard, Louisiana to cook homemade gumbo for flood victims in Midlandon Tuesday, May 26, 2020. 
He drifted back to 2017 and his memory of four weeks in ICU and more in rehab.

After seeing how strangers "lifted the burden" from his family, Richard said, now that's how he spends his life — whether it's helping medical patients pay electric bills or giving Christmas gifts to families who just can't.

"I give back because it's been done for me," he said, noting that this was his first trip to The Mitten. 

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Ted Daigle

About Ted Daigle – Realtor Growing up in Church Point, LA instilled values of hard work and dedication, which has carried over into every aspect of his life, including real estate. This Lafayette r....

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