CrossFit 171 Devastated by Hurricane Laura, Fellow Affiliate Owners Offer Help

September 7, 2020 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit 171
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On August 27, Hurricane Laura punished the Louisiana coastline, devastating homes and businesses along the way, including CrossFit 171 in Lake Charles.

  • “I have three bay doors and it blew them all in. The insulation from the roof fell down, the brick fell off the front (of the building), and the ceiling is falling down. A lot of water got in, too,” said CrossFit 171 owner Angela Morris, adding that various equipment was also damaged.

Needless to say, her gym is currently closed.

Photo Credit: CrossFit 171

One big thing: Morris is focusing on the community and how to help her members before worrying about the gym.

  • “I’m not working on fixing the gym yet. I need to take care of my members first,” said Morris when we asked her about her plan to get her business up and running again.
  • “There are so many people around us — some of my members and their family members — who lost their homes. There are trees laying all over the place. Like massive trees. Trees where it takes three people holding hands to get their arms around them,” she said.
  • “And nobody has any power right now. They say it could be another four weeks without power. All you hear around here are the sounds of chainsaws and generators,” she continued. “And unless you’re an AT&T customer, your phone isn’t working. There’s no service. I have been lending out my phone to everyone.

As a result of losing their homes or businesses, many of her members are already canceling their memberships.

  • “I don’t blame them,” she said.

Bigger priorities than her gym: To help out, Morris has been spending her days going from home to home helping in any way she can.

  • “Today we tarped two homes and chainsawed three different homes (to rid them of the trees). My 13-year-old boy came with me and climbed on top of the roof to tarp the house,” she said.
  • She added: “At night, we all come together and we eat and drink and jump in my pool and make a plan for the next day. Who are we helping tomorrow?”

Morris said she considers herself one of the lucky ones.

  • I’m very very lucky. My home is OK. My husband and I had a debate last year on whether or not to spend the extra money to get hurricane shingles. We ended up doing it and not one shingle moved,” she said.

Shoutout to CrossFit Cajun: “They came over with their chainsaws and men and a big tractor and a load of donations,” Morris said of Cajun CrossFit, a nearby gym in Prairieville, LA.

  • “They even donated a generator,” Morris said, which was given to one of her client’s elderly mothers.

Shoutout to Revive Fitness: In 2017, Christine Christensen’s gym CrossFit Vidor — now Revive Fitness — was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. It was once again damaged in 2019 by tropical storm Imelda. Though Christensen has never met Morris, when she heard about what had happened in Lake Charles, Christensen didn’t hesitate to start a GoFundMe page.

  • After a Morning Chalk Up article came out about Christensen’s gym in 2017, “I remember one night getting an anonymous $3,000 donation. We just broke down because of the blessing. We had spent our life savings to create the gym, didn’t have flood insurance, completely lost our home, (and) I was seven months pregnant, so it was truly bleak,”  said Christensen, whose gym is just one hour away from CrossFit 171.

The GoFundMe eventually raised close to $10,000 for Christensen.

  • “It really did save us,” said Christensen, who has set the same goal for Morris. “I felt that it was the least I could do to get one going for her. We probably wouldn’t be open today if it weren’t for the generosity of other gyms after Harvey,” she added.

Staying positive in Lake Charles: Between COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura, Morris admits 2020 has been a devastating year for her business and her city, but still, she couldn’t stop talking about how inspired she is by how everyone is coming together.

  • “It’s everyone. Age, race, gender. Everyone is pulling together. With the bullshit that’s going on in the rest of the world, it’s amazing down here. You’re hugging complete strangers and almost crying in their arms…The whole COVID thing? Whatever. We’re giving hugs. Anything to help out,” Morris said.

As for her gym’s future, Morris added: “We will reopen. Absolutely. We’ll find a way. There’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.

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