The Meaux Family: David (husband), Lisa (wife), Taylor (son)
Jonesboro, AR | Regional Nurses, Delta Regional Authority
The Meauxs are a Cajun family from Lake Charles, Louisiana, relocating to Jonesboro, Arkansas, due to rising sea levels in 2035. David is the husband, Lisa the wife, and Taylor is their son. Lisa’s parents, despite living in a similarly threatened community, refuses to move because he wants to stay close to a memorial site honoring those harmed by nearby chemical plants. After being exposed to the damages caused by these companies and living through the Coronavirus, both David and Lisa were inspired to enter the healthcare field. They discuss how their job connects them to both nature and people throughout the Delta.
Interviewer: Hello Meaux family, how are you all doing today?
David Meaux: Hi, thanks for having us. We’re taking things one day at a time, it’s been hard, but it seems to be getting better.
Lisa Meaux: Hey, so Like David said, it’s been difficult, really difficult, but we’re grateful for all the help the Community Resilience & Mobility department has provided Lisa, me, and our son Taylor. We really didn’t want to leave Lake Charles, but we knew it was time. My parents decided to remain. Y’know, I can talk to him about the rising sea levels until I’m blue in the face, but he just refuses to move.
David Meaux:We tell him that the government is less likely to help him the longer he waits but he’s not going anywhere. He told us to not worry about him and that we can always come by for some crawfish, gumbo, and his special andouille sausage. That’s grandpere and grandmere for you.
Lisa Meaux: It’s a difficult situation…he’s lived in Louisiana for his whole life. His brother and sister and some of our family friends are buried back in Donaldsonville, where we lived before, we moved to Lake Charles a few decades ago . Two of the major chemical companies that settled as part of the Cancer Alley Recuperation suit, Mosaic Faustina Ammonia Plant and CF Ind. Nitrogen Complex , had to create a permanent memorial for their former employees and Donaldsonville residents who contracted diseases related to the plants’ products. My dad fought a long time for Mosaic and CF to honor the lives they’d harmed and has helped to facilitate a just public engagement process in the community for the design of the memorial. It’s so important that we have a place to access our history, remember, and heal for generations to come.
Interviewer: Thank you for sharing, I’m sorry for your family’s loss. I’ve had a few conversations with individuals that chose to remain in-place. Can you talk about the process of getting to Jonesboro and how you’ve acclimated?
Lisa Meaux: Prior to moving, David and I were offered a number of different jobs in Jonesboro, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. We settled on Jonesboro because we wanted to move to a city closer to the Mississippi to have a familiar river nearby. We liked the idea of working in the occupational healthcare field due to what we saw in Donaldsonville rather than the more general health work we’d been doing before. Moving was still hard, but the Migration Support program gave us a shipping container to ship our things, and even helped us find buyers for things that we weren’t looking to bring with us or that just wouldn’t be possible to move. In the end we decided to sell as much as we could, pack our suitcases and family treasures and start fresh with the rest once we got to Jonesboro. The Migration Support program was extremely helpful in organizing our trip, introducing us to new and old residents of Jonesboro, and getting us trained and started in our new positions shortly after arriving. Settling in was rough and some days are hard but it’s getting easier. The Migration Support team reached out and guided us to counselling services and local support networks. We were connected to the Jonesboro Bayou Social Club for people who came up here from Lake Charles, Lafayette and the lowlands around there. It’s been a great resource and huge comfort to just talk to others from back home with shared experiences.
David Meaux:Living through the Coronavirus Pandemic and watching the Cancer Alley Recuperation Suit really impacted our opinion of what to study in college. One of Lisa’s good friends is a nurse a bit older than us and hearing about the challenges of being a nurse in our hometown really increased our appreciation for her and the profession. We wanted to be able to help everyone keep healthy no matter where they worked or lived. Our entire politics really changed. I remember saying to Lisa, we should’ve been supporting Bernie given that most of what he pushed for was really needed by Americans after all. 2020 completely transformed our lives, now, we’re avid supporters of universal healthcare and work as Regional On-Site Nurses for the Delta Regional Authority.
Interviewer: That sounds like a great position, what’s a typical day like?
Lisa Meaux: We’re often driving to a Decommissioning Site providing basic on-site checkups, talking to the Site Supervisor, and try to collect both qualitative and quantitative data on the well-being of the workers. While I’m really excited and impressed by what the Green New Deal has offered my family, my job challenges me to recognize that not everybody feels the same way. I have one client who transitioned from an oil rig to installing renewable resources, and he’s always talking about the reduced pay, different type of co-workers, and other gripes he has with the job. Some of his opinions will never change, but he has taken a new perspective on clean energy and the necessity to create a future for his grandchildren.
"...I have one client who transitioned from an oil rig to installing renewable resources, and he’s always talking about the reduced pay, different type of co-workers, and other gripes he has with the job. Some of his opinions will never change, but he has taken a new perspective on clean energy and the necessity to create a future for his grandchildren...”
Interviewer: There’s certainly still a long-way to go to get everybody on board but at least he recognizes some value in the Green New Deal. David, would you like to share some opinions on your new role?
David Meaux:I love being a Regional Nurse. I enjoy working in the same field as Lisa and traveling around the Delta to provide health services for GND workers. One thing I really appreciate is that going to different communities in the region causes me to learn about communities, parks, and natural landscapes I would’ve never known about. The increased investment in parks and landscapes has really drawn out the wonders of our region, we love visiting Boat Mill Swamp with Taylor. Prior to the GND I never really thought of myself outside the context of Lake Charles, now, I’m proud to be a resident of the Delta. We miss eating at Steamboat Bill’s every now and then but that’s alright.
Lisa Meaux:A few good Cajun and Creole places have popped up now, and Bill’s wasn’t that good David. Like he mentioned though, our jobs are interesting partially because we get exposure to all the great projects taking place in our region. Last week, our family took a trip to a windmill farm that I learned about after one of my site check-ins. I felt like I took a crash-course in wind energy after spending a day on the site, it’s really impressive how we’re able to use sustainable resources to provide our energy needs. Kind of random but one thing I notice while on my trips is that most people are proud to be working on these projects. They recognize how renewables allow them to keep more of their paycheck by reducing their electric bills, and they appreciate being able to create a source of energy that doesn’t poison people. From learning about the environment to hearing how people’s day-to-day lives have improved, I love being a regional nurse and how it allows me to connect with people all over the Delta. The Green New Deal has provided me with an opportunity to truly appreciate my home.
Interviewer: That’s excellent. So many people are finding new opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and connect with their new neighbors, I’m glad to hear that you both are taking advantage of your new home. Well, I think Taylor is getting impatient waiting for your walk so we’ll conclude here. Thank you for your sharing your thoughts on the Green New Deal.