“Helping out mankind” is how Kyle Lowder (ex-Brady Black) of Days of our Lives describes his recent trip along with co-star Judi Evans (Bonnie Lockhart) to the Gulf coast.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Kyle Lowder and Judi Evans both said that they knew they had to do something and become involved in helping the victims.
Also their good friend and publicist, Howie Simon, has family living in Louisiana (who are doing fine), so they made a call to Simon asking what they could do. And off they went.
“At first, when I called Howie it was like, well? And I said, no you don’t understand, I want to be there!” Lowder explained. “I have to go and be a part of this. I want hands on. Unless you have no heart, I don’t understand how a person would not want to help.”
The first day both Lowder and Evans had off from Days of our Lives they boarded a flight to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Both took up camp at the Civic Center and began working with the Red Cross. They served meals, handed out supplies, worked with the evacuees, and just were a friend for the people to talk with.
“I have to tell you...I was so impressed with the work that the Red Cross provided that I’m seriously thinking on becoming a member,” Evans said. “These people -- the Red Cross -- have done and continue to do so much that I really don’t think people even know the reality of the Red Cross. I always donated monetarily, but to be able to actually be a part of the physical work was unbelievable.”
Evans and Lowder both admitted that seeing the effects of Katrina up close and personal was just “Surreal.”
“When I saw this, it just hit home. These poor people don’t even have a toothbrush, a blanket, and to top it off many lost loved ones,” Evans said. “I will tell you that I have a whole new respect for a toilet that works.”
Lowder agrees, adding that people in their everyday lives are accustomed to taking things for granted.
“To look at these people eye-to-eye and know that they lost everything is hard to accept. And to realize that things may never be the same,” Lowder said. “I’m a changed person. This has put my life in perspective. You know, we don’t rule this earth or planet, we think we do, but the fact is that anything can happen in a flash.”
Evans and Lowder both stated that this was not a ploy or were they trying to use their celebrity status in any way.
“There were many Days of our Lives fans, but we didn’t go as celebrities, or to create a scene,” Lowder said. “The only way I used my status was to get more people involved in helping and become a part of the action. For us it was off to work.”
This story of goodwill also has a ironic twist. While working in St. Charles, LA, Evans and Lowder found themselves in the midst of oncoming Hurricane Rita. Both found themselves stranded as Rita would later hit Lake Charles.
Each passing day began to deteriorate with Rita fast approaching. Both tried to get back to Los Angeles and no flights were available, no car rentals were available, cell phone were down, leaving Evans and Lowder to think fast on their feet.
“We stayed with a family in Sulphur, LA. And we decided to evacuate, so we packed up a caravan of four vehicles and headed to Monroe, LA,” Evans said. “What was to be a four hour drive took 12 hours. This was an experience I’ll never forget. We went there to help, and we became evacuees!”
Eventually, Evans and Lowder were able to get a flight from Monroe to Atlanta, GA, and then on to Los Angeles.
Evans stressed that people need to familiarize themselves in the event of a tragedy and take survival more seriously.
“I don’t think we as a society realize such a situation when everything is fine, but we should know that a disaster can strike at anytime and anywhere,” Evans said. “Be prepared. At least have flashlights and batteries and a plan if the need be.”
Evans was adamant at pointing out that one thing people need to be aware of is that all the focus was put on New Orleans and Houston, but said that the small towns like Sulphur, LA and Cameron, LA have also suffered extensive damage.
“With all the hype of the big cities, I think people tend to forget the smaller towns,” Evans said. “Remember when that hurricane came, it didn’t stop in New Orleans. Please remember that.”
Evans and Lowder said that although this was their first experience at such devastation, hopefully it will be their last. Evans added, “I don’t think any soap opera can ever create such a scene.”
Soapdom wants to know, if you both have any advice for the public? “Please help and donate. Do what you can. The media coverage doesn’t even begin to show what Katrina and Rita were all about. Imagine what was once a home is now open land. But if we had to do it all over again, we would.” Evans and Lowder replied.”
For more info on how you can help, log on to www.redcross.org.
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