BATON ROUGE, La. – A man who watched Baton Rouge divide itself along racial lines in the wake of fatal police shootings says tragic flooding is helping to rebuild relationships in his community.
“As horrible as it was, it brought the city back together,” Ron Thompson, Jr. told Hot Topics. “We needed help, and people were out there helping each other. It gave me some hope.”
Thompson owns a retail store that sells hardware and tools in Baton Rouge.
He he knew Alton Sterling, a black man killed by police outside a Louisiana convenience store in July.
Less than two weeks after Sterling’s death, a man ambushed and killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson was one of the victims. He frequented Thompson’s store.
“It’s a small community here. The last two months have been hard.” said Thompson.
Last week, yet another blow to the Baton Rouge community: historic flooding destroyed more than 60,000 homes.
Despite a difficult and divisive summer, Thompson said his community came together to help each other.
“Tensions are high, but people came together,” said Thompson. “People of all backgrounds, all races came together to help.”
His hardware store took in some water, but he has remained open as his neighbors work to rebuild.
“People are coming in, telling stories. Helping each other out,” said Thompson. “This horrible event did bring the city back together.”
Thompson’s home took in several feet of water during the floods. He said he has it easy compared to many others.
“It’s just me, my wife and my dog,” said Thompson. “Some people have kids. Lost a home. Lost their cars. Their world is upside down.”
He is currently in temporary housing.
On Thursday, he got help from a group of volunteers with a business called Roadie who drove from Atlanta to deliver food, water and clothing to Thompson and his family.
“We heard from a lot of organizations in the days after to floods, but Roadie is the only one to come through and show up,” said Thompson.
He advises anyone wanting to help to get in touch with similar organizations.
“Look for organizations like Roadie that are taking donations and going straight to the people who need them,” said Thompson.
Thompson said despite the devastating destruction the floods have brought to his city, he has a sense of hope.
“It makes me proud to see how people are helping each other out,” said Thompson. “I hope it lasts. I truly do.”