RAYNE, LA (NBC33) — Tonight, Thursday, April 26, a community will come together at a candle light vigil in an attempt to heal the emotional wounds caused by an unexpected tragedy.
“Right now the city is in a very somber mood,” Elaine Sias, a resident of Rayne and organizer of tonights candle light vigil, explained. “People don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to think of this.”
The city was shaken to its core after news broke about a fatal fire that claimed the life of four children. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The mother of the children, Shaqueta McDade, is behind bars, facing four counts of Second-Degree murder.
“Tonight is not about judging. It’s not about the circumstances. It’s about the pain we’re feeling as a community and the hurt and how to deal with it,” Sias said.
The town of Rayne has a special name for Sias. She’s known as “Mama Wolf.” That’s because she takes on role as the protector of the town’s children.
“I take care of all the teens and any child in distress,” Sias said when explaining how she earned her title. “I love my community and my city and whenever someone is in need, I figure out a way to get them help.”
The candle light vigil happening at 7:00 p.m. is one way she’s providing much needed support to a town left in shock.
“By all of us coming together, we can all be there for each other and we can all start to move past this pain and continue to heal,” Sias noted. “That’s the best way to show love for the ones we lost – to move forward.”
Finding a way to move forward is what’s needed for those who survived the tragedy. Although four children perished in the flames, one sibling, a 10-year-old boy survived because he was not home at the time of the incident.
“His mother [who is being held at the Acadia Parish Prison] relinquished guardianship to his uncle,” Sias said when explaining the current situation for the surviving child. “His uncle is a young man I’ve known for a long time. He’s a basket ball coach in Church Point. He’s a good man.”
With his uncle’s support, the child will now have to learn how to move forward without the support system he had known for his entire life.
“Any loss is devastating, but to have a loss of this magnitude has really pierced our hearts,” Sias said. “We have to come together as a community to revive it together.”
In addition to the vigil, which is being held at the Rayne Depot Square, a benefit has been scheduled to happen on Sunday, April 29. A group will sell BBQ pork steak and chicken dinners for $8 and hamburgers for $3. That will happen outside of Union Hall, located at 1931 E. Jeff Davis Ave. in Rayne.
“All of the food was donated,” Sias explained. “The money raised will go into a trust for the young man.”
As for the cost of the funeral service, that too has been donated. The Gossen Funeral home, 504 North Polk Street, is taking care of the cost for services for all four children.
The services will be held on Saturday, May 5.