Natchitoches Parish Journal
By: Kevin Shannahan
The foremost responsibility of a government is public safety. If a state fails there, nothing else they do really matters all that much. I spent much of the past few days in town, driving and walking around. What I saw in our city restored my faith in the essential goodness of our fellow citizens and of the competence of our local government when it really counts.
I saw the Department of Public Works employees at the Mill St. facility. When I arrived, they had already been filling sandbags all night and had run out of sand. More loads arrived and they went back to work-making over 10,000 bags to help keep our homes safe. The floor of the barn was a sea of mud. It was hard physical work, yet I never saw anyone slacking off or being anything less than cheerful in what were cold, wet and miserable conditions.
The Utility department worked all night and much of the next day to restore power to a flooded sewer lift station that had lost power due to a shorted transformer. They hastily built a 500 sandbag levee to keep the flooding from getting worse, brought in pumps to remove the standing water and finally brought in a generator to power the lift station, keeping our City’s sewer system up and running. It was hard work, much of it in knee-deep cold water, but their work headed off a much worse situation. The pride the men took in their jobs was evident.
Police officers and deputies manned barricades, directed traffic, kept information flowing and assisted countless numbers of their fellow citizens The officers and deputies were often assisted in rescues by ordinary citizens who saw a need and pitched in. One rescue of a family I heard about involved a 4-wheeler, jon-boat, and finally a Sheriff’s Department vehicle. The Fire Department responed to calls, the ambulance service assisted victims and the Utiliy Department kept the power going. The white City trucks have been a ubiquitous presence on the streets as workers respond to calls and proactively look for potential problems. I lost sight of the number of times I saw City workers, knee-deep in water, guiding trucks through the flooded roads, clearing drains, building sandbag levees and doing the hard, cold and wet work of restoring our community. It’s not glamourous, but it is necessary, and they went about it with a quiet competence that was truly impressive. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for a job well done!