Several Bienville Parish residents have helped with the cleanup following Hurricane Ida. Bienville Parish was initially in the projected path of Hurricane Ida, but the hurricane passed us to the east. The Governor’s most recent report was that about 435,000 people are still without electricity and/or other utilities.
At about midnight on August 30, Bienville Parish District 6’s Captain Toni Rodgers and District 7’s Chief Chase Walsworth, left for a deployment to South Louisiana to assist with recovery efforts following Hurricane Ida. Four and a half hours later, they arrived in Addis, which is just south of Baton Rouge. Walsworth said, “it looked like a war zone you see from overseas. Folks crying who have lost everything. No water, food, electric… It was extremely hot, extremely muggy and humid.”
Walsworth and Rodgers were originally slated to go to Kenner, but were rerouted to the Grand Caillou fire department in Houma. Walsworth said, “We were met with open arms.” Walsworth said was greeted with open arms by some of the nicest people he had ever met. “Several of the firefighters and [their] families had lost their homes. It was heartbreaking to hear.” Their task was fire suppression but they ran several medical calls and gas leak calls due to the heavy damage. They also responded to several alarm calls. Walsworth said, “the biggest thing we did was really Humanitarian aid. We passed out pallet after pallet after pallet of water, guesstimated 4 or 5 thousand cases, M.R.E. (Meals Ready to Eat), and tarps. Rain or shine, it didn’t stop.”
Walsorth and Rodgers slept on cots and air mattresses. Multiple companies donated food such as ribs, chicken, sausage, jambalaya, and white beans for the firefighters and first responders. Several local companies also donated a myriad of items including diapers, cups, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and a host of other supplies. Wasworth and Rodgers worked alongside emergency services from Cook County, Illinois, New York Police Department, Arkansas Fire and Police Departments, and multiple fire departments from Texas. Walsworth said he and Adrian Batchelor are planning to return next week to donate items for the first responders and their families who are displaced.
On August 31, Danny Carr of Saline and Shane Bamburg of Castor drove to south Louisiana to help with cleanup. The further south they drove, the more damage they encountered. They were stationed out of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center near Gonzales. Carr and Bamburg worked in the Hammond area clearing trees from the roadway and out of the right-of-way in what seemed like a never-ending task. Carr said, “Lots of trees [were] down in that area.” They worked long shifts during the day. They returned to the Lamar-Dixon complex at night where they slept on cots along with other cleanup workers and approximately 600 members of the Louisiana Army National Guard. Carr pointed out that there were also about 200 personnel working in the same area around Gonzales. Carr and Bamburg were exhausted when they returned home on Friday evening, September 3.
Jay Martin of Friendship, a truck driver, is in Luling, which is about 25 miles west of New Orleans, transporting a machine which is used to access wet ground for a East Coast Powerline, a company from Nova Scotia, Canada. Martin said the Canadian company sent “about 90 men over 2,000 miles and drove four days” to get Luling to help with cleanup. Martin said that his job is to haul the wet ground access machine wherever it is needed.
Martin began helping with the cleanup on September 3rd. He said, “I’ve got 4 coworkers doing the same thing that got here last Monday. We’re sleeping in the sleeper on our trucks, there is a man camp about 60 miles from where I’m located with bunk houses, showers, and food, that we have access to. We all shower and eat there but would rather sleep in our own beds and let someone else use those beds. Most of the power line workers are staying there. Local people are bringing plate lunches by here every evening and we stocked up on things to eat before we came down. We also go to a grocery store or Walmart where there is power, but most shelves are pretty bare by now. There are people working to clean up everywhere, loads of debris are passing by every few minutes, it seems that most roads are reopened, I think that was a main priority. Everywhere you look something is out of place broken utility poles, wires on the ground, bill boards and roofing materials scattered on the ground and trees everywhere. I’m not sure when we will finish. Rumor is they are hoping to have power restored by the end of the month. I’ll leave when the crew I’m working with finishes up with everything Entergy has for them to do.”
Do you know of anyone else from the area who has helped or is helping with Hurricane Ida Cleanup? If so, please contact the Journal at BPJNewsLA@gmail.com.
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