S2 E2: The Helpers

Roishetta Ozane

S2 E2: The Helpers

In the wake of three historic storms, people in Lake Charles, Louisiana, were left to largely fend for themselves. With the federal government’s slow response to the storms, many residents struggled to meet their basic needs. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane felt she had to do something to keep her community together. She started feeding people, clothing people, even paying to house them in hotels — all while she struggled to find a permanent home for her six children.

In this episode, we follow Roishetta as she becomes the safety net for a city that the federal government neglected.


(Sfx voices on the street)

It is a bright, clear morning in Lake Charles, Louisiana. May of 2021. And there’s this little cluster of people forming, passing out coffee, on a main drag downtown. 

Dominique Darbonne: Yes. 

Man: This one's black and the other one's creamy.  

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: They didn't know what kind you wanted. 

Police are setting up barricades, blocking off side streets near the lake that the city is named for. 

Officer: They don’t want nobody on this side. They don’t want us crossing this median.

One of the women clutching a coffee says she’s negotiated for this spot.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Um, yeah, so we've already spoken to the Sheriff's Department and the Marshal's Office and we're fine. 

Woman: Where is this speech going to be? 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Somewhere back here. 

That woman — the tall one in her mid-thirties, with huge dimples that pop out when she smiles — that’s Roishetta Sibley Ozane. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: That's all I know. 

Roishetta got to this street corner early, so she could be front and center for the president. Joe Biden is on his way. 

(Sfx music coming from a speaker on the street)

He’s coming to promote his infrastructure bill. But Roishetta wishes he’d focus on something else.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You know, it’s, it's very present. Just standing right here on the lakefront, which is supposed to be the central part of town, you can still see the damage. And it's nine months out after the hurricanes. 

Roishetta wants help for Lake Charles because it’s suffering after a series of destructive storms — back-to-back hurricanes in 2020 and a historic ice storm that following winter.

Months have passed and Lake Charles is still a mess.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You can look right here to the left and you can see the Capital One Tower is still not rebuilt. 

Capital One Tower, damaged by Hurricane Laura
The boarded-up Capital One Tower in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana, on July 13, 2021.
Ben Depp for American Public Media

This big skyscraper right on the lakefront. It was basically all windows, the gem of downtown. Now, a ton of its windows are boarded up. It rains so much here, the wood’s turned mushy and gray in some places, like a soggy waffle. 

For Roishetta, it’s a symbol of the help that Lake Charles was promised but still hasn’t gotten. Two different presidents — Donald Trump and now Joe Biden — pledged millions of dollars in aid. There was supposed to be logistical help, money for people to patch their homes. But Roishetta says you’d never know it.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: If you go in certain parts of town, you can see that the houses are abandoned and there's no sort of rebuilding going on. So we can't say that we're just frustrated with this president. We're just frustrated with the way it’s been handled. 

In the meantime, there’s nowhere for people to go. 250 thousand households had asked FEMA for help. Just over 2000 had gotten an RV or a trailer — a place to live. That's less than one in a hundred.

And that’s a change, because the last time there was a big hurricane in this part of Louisiana, FEMA did a lot more. In the first months after that storm, they made more than six times as many trailers and RVs available to families. That meant people could stay in Lake Charles while the city got rebuilt. Not this time.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Our citizens are being told to go to other towns, other cities where there are resources because there are none here. We have hundreds if not thousands of people still homeless here. We just want justice for the people who have been made to leave and for the ones who are here.

A guy rides up on a bicycle. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: How are you doing?

Roishetta clocks him right away.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: What's your name? 

Nolan Gaudin: Nolan. Nolan Gaudin. And I'm really.

He seems tired. His clothes are a little dirty. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You homeless?

Nolan Gaudin: I'm homeless, I'm out here with no food. My tent is gone. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: So you need a new tent?

Nolan Gaudin: Yes ma’am.

Someone stole his tent. So he’s been sleeping under a tarp, a couple blocks away. Roishetta runs over to her truck. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I did — I had a tent in here and I gave it away. I need to put some more tents in here.

She digs around and comes out with a stack of Ziploc bags, packed with snacks.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: How many you want? It has tuna, Pop Tarts, sunflower seeds.

Nolan Gaudin: As many as you can spare, ma'am.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: How many can you fit? 

Roishetta started keeping supplies in her truck after the storms. So she’d have something to offer if she bumped into someone in need. It’s been happening a lot.   

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Can you fit some more? Or that’s good?

Nolan Gaudin: I can fit a couple more. I’m trying to get as much as I can because I never know when I’m gonna get another meal, you know? And that's crazy to be in the United States and not be able to get a meal. Oh, lordy, that's good, ma'am. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Alrighty. 

Nolan Gaudin: That's all I can hold right now, you know. 

I came to Lake Charles to report on the system that’s supposed to help cities get through disasters. What I found was that a lot of the help people did manage to get looked a lot like this.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Did you get some water? So you can stay energized. 

Nolan Gaudin: Yes, ma'am. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: All right. 

A good Samaritan, grabbing food and water out of her car for a neighbor who really needed it.

(Music in)

This is In Deep, a podcast from American Public Media. I’m Lauren Rosenthal. 

Lake Charles is a small city that’s always been close-knit. When Roishetta saw how her neighbors were struggling after these devastating storms, she felt like she had to do something. But people needed more than just bottles of water or Ziplocs full of food. They needed a place to live and so did Roishetta. That kind of help could only come from outside the community. 

This is the story of one person who tried to help her city keep it together while they waited for the cavalry to come. 

This is episode 2: The Helpers.

(Music out)

(Sfx school bus rumbling)

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m following Roishetta around as she runs an errand. She’s constantly on the move, but she told me if I wanted to talk to her and ask her some questions about what she’d been doing in Lake Charles, I could meet her here — in her old neighborhood as she waits for her daughter Kamea at the bus stop.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Hey, my baby. How you doing? How’d you know I was already here?

Kamea Ozane: I was looking for you.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Where the other kids?

More than a year since the first hurricane and half the houses on this block still have blue tarps on the roof. Roishetta’s family is one of the lucky few living in a FEMA trailer now, but it’s in a different town. So Roishetta drives over here every day so her kids can stay in their same schools.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You hungry, huh? Yeah. OK. She's always hungry. She's nine. Yeah, she's the third youngest…

Roishetta has a big family. She is a single mom to six children. 

Roishetta asks Kamea to wait a few minutes so she can show me their old house. I knew things had been rough for Roishetta’s family since the storms — that she’d spent months waiting for help from FEMA. But I didn’t really understand the stakes for Roishetta until I saw her old place. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You barely could see the street from here because of all the trees that were lining up back here but they all fell…

It’s a little gray cottage with some piles of trash out front and peeled siding. Roishetta had lived here for almost a decade before the storms. The first hurricane — Hurricane Laura — did a number on it.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: There was a tree that was right here somewhere. And it just happened to fall perfectly over the door that goes to the attic. And that's what made that exposed from the top like that. 

Water poured in through that hole in the roof and soaked Roishetta’s furniture. Mold set in. And almost everything — beds, couches, clothes — had to be thrown away. The house itself was no longer livable. 

Roishetta didn’t have renter’s insurance or the money to get her family into a new place on her own. She was renting her house with a Section 8 voucher.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Like I said, I don't like things lingering. I like to kind of be on top of things. So as soon as those applications were available, I applied. 

(Music in) 

After that first hurricane, Roishetta applied to FEMA. The trailers and RVs hadn’t shown up yet, but FEMA was starting to send money to help people fix their homes, rent new ones and even replace their damaged belongings. 

Roishetta got a chunk of money to put toward a new place. But there was nothing to rent. And she didn’t want to leave Lake Charles.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: It's always been very important to me that my children stay and grow up in the community where they started.

So Roishetta decided to wait. She took the money that FEMA sent her — about six thousand dollars — and moved her family into a hotel while she looked for somewhere permanent to live. She’d been in the hotel a couple weeks when the second hurricane hit.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Well, six months later, seven months later, January we didn't have anything. February…. And I was like, you know, what? What am I supposed to do? 

(Music in)

Rents kept climbing in Lake Charles, and the money from FEMA was barely enough to cover Roishetta’s hotel bills. Eventually, Roishetta’s landlord got the tree off her roof and fixed some of the leaks at her house. The inside was still rough, but Roishetta was running out of options.

So she moved her family back into this house — which was still technically unlivable. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: My house has been deemed unlivable, but I've had to go back to it because you all haven't given me any money to pay to stay anywhere else. 

She told herself staying in this house was only temporary, until FEMA finally came through with extra money for rent, or maybe even a trailer when they finally became available. Anything. 

Until that point, the message that Roishetta and her neighbors were getting from the people in charge — from the president, from FEMA officials — was that everything was going to be fine. Help was on the way.

But that winter, as she settled back into her damaged house, Roishetta realized that might not be true. 

(Music in)

Roishetta got a new job. She was a community organizer for an environmental group working on transitioning the Gulf off fossil fuels. 

Roishetta started spending more time in some neighborhoods she hadn’t seen since the storms, to check on people who were living there. It was worse than she’d realized. Roishetta told me about it one day, while she was driving to pick up her kids.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I was encountering several homeless people and several families who were sleeping in their cars, in their front yard. Or like a family of six or seven were sleeping in a small RV in the yard of their house that was completely destroyed and unlivable. But they didn't have anywhere else to stay. 

(Music out)

Thousands of people were still waiting for FEMA to set up trailers. The agency had money to help people find other housing, but a lot of families were getting denied. And there was very little housing available in Lake Charles. As Roishetta was driving around the city, she had this gnawing thought.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: So I was just like, oh, my God, it's supposed to be bad weather next week.

It was early February of 2021. And I don’t know if you remember this, but this was the moment when forecasters started tracking this weather system moving down from the Arctic. The kind that you almost never see in the Gulf. 

CBS meteorologist: The polar vortex forcing that cold air into a very moist and stormy environment. That means major snow and incredibly dangerous ice across the Deep South. 

As this storm got closer to Lake Charles, the forecasts called for a full week of slush and ice — day after day. The local weatherman said Lake Charles would get colder than it had been in decades. 

Wade Hampton, KPLC: So don't be surprised if you see a few snowflakes, but of course, you have to be outside to do that. And I'm not sure you really want to be outside because look at these temperatures. Twenty three at Lake Charles Regional. 

(Music in)

Twenty-three degrees in a city where it’s almost never below freezing. You probably heard about what this long winter storm eventually did to Texas, because it was huge, national news. Power outages. Hundreds of deaths.

But the threat was just as bad in Louisiana, and in Lake Charles, people were still recovering from two massive hurricanes. This was going to be their third historic storm in the span of just a few months. 

When Roishetta saw those final forecasts about this Arctic storm, she freaked out. Those people she met, sleeping in the wreckage of their homes, in tents — they were in danger.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: How are these people going to survive if this polar vortex is coming?

All of the usual emergency shelters in Lake Charles were wrecked by hurricanes or shut down due to the pandemic. The storm was forecast to arrive on a Sunday. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Well, Saturday is when the city kind of announced their plan and, you know, said that people could call 211 and be placed in a shelter or whatever. 

In this case, the shelter was going to be hotel rooms paid for by the government. And there were supposed to be free shuttles to pick people up and take them to these hotels. It sounded great, but Roishetta was worried that people wouldn’t find out about the program until it was too late. 

(Music in)

It was about to get cold.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: So I wanted to see if that plan was going to actually work.

Roishetta went to one of the shuttle stops. She said no one was dressed for cold weather yet.  But as they waited outside, the temperature dropped to 36 degrees.  

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: We were freezing. When I tell you we couldn’t even feel our fingers. 

Roishetta said the wait was long. A few people missed their ride because they had to leave to find a bathroom. Some people were turned away from the shuttles because they didn’t have ID to show the driver. In the end, the city managed to get about 160 people into hotels. But Roishetta figured there could be dozens of people who needed a place to stay and were having problems like the ones she’d seen.

After a few hours, she got frustrated, and she walked over to a hotel that was just across the street from the shuttle stop. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: And I just asked them how many rooms he had available. I wanted them all and I wanted to pay for them. 

Roishetta had stimulus money set aside from the pandemic. She’d been trying to save it, but there were six rooms left at the hotel. She took out her wallet and paid for them all using her own money.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I’m a single mom of six, so I really didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it. But I had that desire to make sure these people were safe and nobody froze to death. 

At first she had no plan, other than to find some of those families she’d seen sleeping in cars and tents and put them in those hotel rooms. 

(Music in)

But those families were spread out across the city. Roishetta needed help getting to them all.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I started inboxing everybody that was on the ballot to run for mayor, for city council or whatever, and I was like, hey, I’m going to be on the ground going looking for our homeless friends. I need your help. Can you help me?

(Music out)

Sean Ardoin: Y’all want to help out, help out. We got us, y’all. We got us. The system always needs help and the people always come through.

That’s Sean Ardoin, a Zydeco musician who was running for mayor of Lake Charles. He live streamed to his Facebook page, so voters could see him meeting up with Roishetta and a couple other volunteers outside a grocery store. Roishetta stood out in a leopard print sweater and black pants — and no coat.

Sean Ardoin: Talk to the people.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: We’re out here at Walmart getting ready to get some food for some of the people we helped put up in hotel rooms.

Sean Ardoin — the guy running for mayor — chipped in some of his own money. And he told his followers to think about chipping in too.

Sean Ardoin: Here you go. So we getting it knocked out.  So if you all want to help out. Help out. We taking care of them, y’all. Lake Charles is coming together.

Word started to get out that Roishetta was providing food and shelter as the storm bore down on Lake Charles. 

Dominique Darbonne: Roishetta’s name kept popping up. 

That’s Dominique Darbonne. She was just looking for a way to volunteer ahead of the storms. When she checked Facebook, Roishetta was everywhere.

Dominique Darbonne: I kept seeing her in groups and she was posting her private information on pages (laughs) and saying, like, if you need somewhere to stay to get out of this weather, like, let me know.

Dominique showed up at the Walmart that day in a huge puffy coat that fell to her knees. And she started helping Roishetta buy groceries. 

Dominique Darbonne: And I had like a hundred and fifty dollars cash on me that I threw in there. So we thought, yeah, we're off to a pretty good start. Well, then that night, we started getting messages for people asking…we get — we get a message from somebody on the ground: ‘Hey, we found someone. We need to put them in a hotel room.’ So Roishetta and I are like, I guess we'll just pay for this out of pocket? 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Like swiping our card, you know, so much to where my bank actually froze my card and was like, hey. Is this fraud? What’s going on? 

Dominique Darbonne: So we pay for a couple of hotels out of pocket and then we like, shoot, this is not... 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Sustainable.

Dominique Darbonne: Sustainable. What are we going to do? 

(Music in)

Dominique is a singer in a successful local cover band with a day job, too. She and her husband had some money to put toward housing people, but not a lot. Their own house had been wrecked and they were fighting insurance.

Roishetta, on the other hand, was the sole breadwinner for her family. She and Dominique decided the only way they could afford to help was if they had donations. They got on Facebook and made live streams — like this one — asking for the community to help out.  

​​Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You need a receipt, we can give you a receipt. We can — we can give you a play by play, you know, whatever you need. Just we need — you know, we still need help. 

Money started rolling in along with more requests for shelter. Dominique and Roishetta were receiving them by phone, text, DMs around the clock. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I'm a mom. She's a mom. Our babies were crying and we were just like, we're going to get this done. We were literally up all night, like the last two nights, trying to make sure we met every need. And all of this is because of private citizens and their donations. 

(Music out) 

The storm went on for almost a week. In that time, Dominique and Roishetta raised more than $30,000. They say they spent it all providing food and shelter to more than 300 people. 

After the storm passed, temperatures rose, the ice melted. Roishetta told me the hotel reservations that she and Dominique had made started to run out. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I think from the beginning we didn't expect to continue after the freeze. We were just meeting needs every day. And then we were like, when everybody checks out, that’s it. But then I think each of those days, we realized that people had so many long term needs.

The most common one was a safe place to live. Many of the people they’d helped had no choice but to go back to sleeping in cars, or tents. Some of them were in damaged, unlivable homes worse than Roishetta’s. 

Dominique wasn’t sure what they could do to help those people.

Dominique Darbonne: We're just two moms. 

But people were still coming to Dominique and Roishetta, asking for a place to stay. They had a hard time saying no — especially Roishetta.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: But it's just like, we started this thing and I feel like we're going to see it through and it’s gonna be amazing.

(Music in)

But they still couldn’t afford to book hotels for people out of pocket, and they didn’t feel right continuing to ask for donations when the whole community was suffering after the storms.

Roishetta figured that if anyone was going to be able to help these people who’d been pushed out of their homes, it was FEMA. They had money. They had trailers. But for some reason — they had denied thousands of people.

Roishetta felt like if she just understood FEMA better — figured out the rules they were using to make these decisions — she’d be able to get people help.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane:  I'm trying to read through FEMA red tape and figure out, you know, how I could get people approved who have run into things like that. 

She told me about this one day, sitting in the yard at Dominique’s parents’ house. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: So that's that's the majority of what I'm doing at night, you know, when everybody’s asleep, sleeping.

Lauren Rosenthal: All your kids?

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Everybody in the world, probably, but me.

Lauren Rosenthal: And so you're reading like FEMA, what, like, technical guides, pamphlets? 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Like really boring FEMA jargon. 

Lauren Rosenthal: Just studying. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Yes. Yes. Because that's how I've been able to get, you know, people approved and moved up.

Roishetta said she’d had some success getting people approved for FEMA trailers once the agency finally started opening them up in Lake Charles. She’d gotten on the phone with several case managers to find out why certain applications had been denied. Roishetta had helped families hunt down the missing documents they needed to prove their eligibility — leases and photographs of damaged homes. And then, she helped the families file appeals, citing all the rules and policies she’d been reading through at night.

It was tedious, times ten. But she’d managed to get a handful of families out of hotels and unstable living arrangements and moved into FEMA trailers.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: It just takes more work. And, you know, when you got somebody who already feels hopeless and is already like, well, they want to give up.

Dominique had been listening quietly. With a grin on her face. 

Dominique Darbonne: She’s a brilliant badass. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane and Dominique Darbonne
Roishetta Sibley Ozane and Dominique Darbonne.
Submitted photo

(Music in)

That conversation was more than a year ago now. I stayed in touch with Dominique and Roishetta after I left Lake Charles.

(Sfx phone ringing)

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Hey…

Lauren Rosenthal: Hi. How are you doing? 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I’m good. I’m probably on your voicemail….

I was surprised to hear how little changed in Lake Charles as time wore on — even after the president came to town. Roishetta had hoped President Biden would announce some big plan to rebuild the city, but he didn't. He gave his speech that day on the lakefront and he left. 

Months went by, and Lake Charles still hadn’t received the federal aid it needed in order to rebuild. It got tied up in bureaucracy and politics. 

Which meant that for a lot of people who’d lost their homes in Lake Charles — for people like Roishetta — it felt like everything was on hold.

(Music out)

Roishetta and her kids stayed in their FEMA trailer for months. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: They provided as best they could for my six children. But we know it's not home and we're ready to be home. 

This whole time, while she was helping other families get into housing, Roishetta was house hunting for herself, too. Thousands of homes were still damaged and off the market. But Roishetta was hoping to buy for the very first time.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Yes, that would be the ideal dream and I would have went from HUD Section 8 housing to FEMA trailer to homeownership.

Lauren Rosenthal: That's pretty awesome.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I know, my whole life has changed after the hurricanes and all those disasters, so I guess it's good, something good to come out of it. 

It was going to be a big step for Roishetta. I wanted to know what kind of help she was getting as she prepared to move out. She told me she’d gotten a call from a caseworker with a FEMA-funded program.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: She works for Disaster Case Management. That is her job. 

FEMA had been paying for all kinds of liaisons and counselors since the first hurricane hit Lake Charles. These workers didn’t have a budget to help people directly. Instead, they operated kind of like a bulletin board, for charities and nonprofits that were active around the city. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I don't know if each individual has made their own list, and they’re not sharing it? I don’t know what it is.  

As Roishetta talked with her caseworker, she confirmed that Vessel Project was on that list of aid groups. At least for this specific counselor.

Vessel Project is the name that Dominique and Roishetta gave themselves — their tiny, local aid group that was just two moms.

(Music in)

Roishetta had suspected for months that the federal government — with its deep pockets and endless array of resources — was referring people to Vessel Project. 

Roishetta said she and Dominique had been receiving calls from people who needed a place to sleep tonight or a rental deposit or furniture to replace what they’d lost. Some of these people claimed to have gotten Vessel Project’s number from their caseworkers.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: You know, I help so many people. I don't ask questions. And when people ask me to do something, you know, I say yes. 

On the one hand, it made sense that this was happening. She and Dominique had put themselves out there.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: But also at the same time I want to say, why are y'all giving our name out? 

It’s a question Roishetta might not have had if she felt like the government was following through on its promises to help Lake Charles in ways that someone like her couldn’t.

Lake Charles needed to rebuild the housing it lost. That could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and that kind of money could only come from the federal government. But 18 months after all these disasters started, that money still wasn’t flowing. And after 18 months, FEMA could start charging people rent to stay in their trailers. Otherwise, families could be forced to leave. 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Because a woman called me this morning asking, could Vessel Project buy her some furniture because she has to move out of her FEMA trailer. And I said, when are you moving? 

And calls like that kept coming from people who'd been passed from one local aid group to another. But a lot of those local groups were out of money. If they called Roishetta, she always tried to help.

Lauren Rosenthal: Is this going to be money out of your pocket or Vessel Project money? 

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Vessel Project — Vessel Project has no money at this current time. 

Any donations they got, they spent. Roishetta said. Even though Vessel Project’s bank account was empty, they tried not to turn people away. 

Lauren Rosenthal: So when somebody — when somebody calls and it's like, a real, real need, you guys are still paying out of pocket?

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Yes, Lauren, unfortunately. 

(Music in)

And that was a problem, because Roishetta was supposed to be saving up to move out of her FEMA trailer and into a home of her own. As she’d funneled money to people in the community, to cover their rental deposits and emergency housing, she’d been cutting corners on things for herself. Things like car repairs, a new cell phone. 

Roishetta started helping people in Lake Charles because she saw that some of them were desperate. They had run out of options. There was absolutely nowhere for some of them to go. 

She’d pictured herself as the safety net for people who fell through the federal safety net. She never meant to wind up on the front lines. But somehow, that’s exactly what had happened.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: I was telling somebody yesterday. I feel like, you know, I jump into action and I do and I work and I do and I work. And then I start feeling like Captain America or something. But then I'm looking around like, where’s the Avengers? It's like, why am I here by myself? Where the other Avengers? But then I'm like, well, Captain America was Captain America by himself before the Avengers were formed. He was a pretty fine superhero on his own. But he was — they were better together. 

Next time on In Deep: We go searching for the government officials who are meant to be rebuilding Lake Charles. 

Lauren Rosenthal:  Is that how this system is supposed to work? 

John Long, FEMA: There usually are reasons why, you know, people have fallen through the cracks or aren't being helped by the system that's in place. 

And we find them. 

In Deep is reported and produced by me, Lauren Rosenthal, with help from Jamie Hobbs, Anna Canny and Nancy Rosenbaum. 

Our editors are Chris Julin and Dave Mann. Thanks to Catherine Winter, Caitlin Esch, Bridget Bodnar, Kori Suzuki, Renata Sago, Annie Baxter and Chris Worthington. Original music by Jelani Bauman. Fact checking by Betsy Towner Levine. This episode was mixed by Derek Ramirez. Our web editor is Andy Kruse. You can find more information, pictures and links to all our episodes at indeep.org. 

Photo of Roishetta Sibley Ozane: Ben Depp for American Public Media.