Katrina Evacuee making masks for New Orleans area nurses and doctors

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Grandfalls, TX – It’s a town of no more than 400 people in the desert of West Texas, but these people have a big heart.

It was 2005 when Charlotte Bradford and her family arrived in Grandfalls from Belle Chasse, fleeing the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. The COVID-19 crisis hitting Louisiana in 2020 is much different than what was hitting the state nearly 15 years ago.

She noticed that people in neighboring towns were making masks, and wondered if one of her childhood friends, who is a nurse at a Westbank hospital, was in need of one too. After talking to several of her family and friends in the metro area, she realized the need for protective gear.

Bradford, 56, used YouTube and a Cambridge University study to figure out how to make the masks. Using a vacuum cleaner bag and pipe cleaners she is making masks nearly compatible with N95s that medical personnel use.

“Hopefully these are good enough. All of us have been praying about it,” Bradford says.

Grandfalls resident Barbara Bowden makes masks for New Orleans area residents.

She enlisted the help of six other women in town. They donated their own fabric to be used, and even their vacuum bags. The seven women meet at the town’s Chamber of Commerce building everyday to make more masks.

Grandfalls, Chamber of Commerce building where the group meets everyday to make masks.

“We had someone ask for an American flag print. I was happy to make it, it gave the mask more personality. One of the church ladies gave up her patriotic quilt material so we could make it,” she says.

At first, the masks were to protect her friends that are nurses, her son living on the Westbank, and his friends. The pleas for more protective gear has reached outside of hospitals to inside City Hall. Mayor Cantrell’s special assistant is receiving one and a financial advisor, having to still work in the city is receiving another.

Judy Corean makes masks for New Orleans area residents.

Bradford says what started out for her family and friends has expanded in her own area.

“People saw us making these masks and asked us if we could make some for their family and friends around town,” she says. “We’ve had male nurses ask us to make more masculine looking ones.”

At first they started asking for people to help with the shipping, but now the group wants a picture of the person wearing their mask so they can pray for them.

“We want to pray for their safety. So they can get through this without a problem.”

If you want to get in touch with Charlotte for a mask, reach out to her son Jacob at jbradford@wgno.com.

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