During the rescue efforts following Hurricane Isaac in Slidell, Louisiana, an Associated Press photographer captured a picture of an individual being rescued from Palm Lake by first responders. The picture was seen in Florida and initiated an American Red Cross Safe and Well story with the best possible ending.
A man in Florida saw the picture and thought it was his brother, who had disappeared during Hurricane Katrina. Through contact with the Associated Press and Southeast Louisiana Red Cross chapter, the man tried to see if the man in the photo was his missing brother.
At the chapter, Safe and Well volunteer Debbie Kemp, deployed to the disaster area from Ann Arbor, Michigan, began research to find the man in the photograph and see if he were the missing relative. She tracked him to a Red Cross shelter in Slidell, and discovered he had just left the shelter. A sheriff’s deputy indicated they had given the individual a ride to his residence. After two days, Kemp was able to meet Larry Baily of Slidell, the man in the picture. Together they contacted the man in Florida and it was determined during the call that they were not related.
The story could have ended there. But it didn’t.
Kemp realized Baily was ill and arranged for a family friend to take him to the hospital. She checked on him during his recovery, and he shared the names and contact information for his estranged family. The Red Cross volunteer started calling people in Orlando, Florida and was able to contact Baily’s ex-wife.
His daughter, Brenda LaFlamme, decided to travel to Slidell and reconnect with her father after a sixteen-year absence. The meeting between father and daughter took place and went well. LaFlamme is relieved her father is still alive and extremely grateful to be reconnected with him through the efforts of the Red Cross. “This will provide the family the opportunity to try to put the past behind them and move forward,” she said.
Baily is continuing to recover in a medical facility near Slidell. As he left the hospital, he said he was very happy to have this chance to reconnect with his family, thanking the Red Cross and volunteer Debbie Kemp for all their efforts. Said Kemp, “Making one person happy, makes the deployment worthwhile.”