UPDATED: Power Restoration; Closings

BOM and BOMF – Open 
Exchange Bank – Open

Road condition update:
For information concerning a certain road –  Call 511 or visit www.511la.org

Grocery Stores:
Super 1 Foods – Open
Wal-Mart – Open

Natchitoches Parish Schools – Closed today
Northwestern State University – Closed today
CLTCC – Closed today
LSUA – Closed today and Monday
St. Mary’s – Closed today and Monday
Registrar of Voters in Natchitoches – Closed today

Natchitoches Flipping Athletics – Closed

Government Offices:
Natchitoches Parish Office of Community Services – Closed
Natchitoches Vistors Center – Closed
Clerk of Court – Open

Cane River Creole National Historical Park – Closed
Louisiana Sport Hall of Fame – Closed

Communications Companies
Radio/TV/Newspaper – as power permits

If you would like to have a business or be included in the list, please email details to  NPJNatLa@gmail.com


Ice, Water and Food Distributed by The Louisiana National Guard

Twenty-seven soldiers from Natchitoches’ Army National Guard Unit, the A/2-108 Cav, were joined by 2 airmen from the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing Sunday, August 30 in distributing several tractor trailer loads of ice, water and meals, ready to eat (MREs) at Lakeview High School. Deputies from the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office were also on hand.

Many parts of our parish are still without power, some rural areas have neither power nor running water due to Hurricane Laura’s damage. Louisiana’s summertime temperatures are rapidly turning this situation from an uncomfortable, to a dangerous situation. Water, ice and food that can be eaten without needing to be cooked, and that does not spoil without refrigeration, are making a real difference in the lives of our residents who are patiently awaiting the restoration of utilities.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizen soldiers of the Louisiana Army and Air National Guard. In peace and in war, they and their fellow soldiers and airmen from the other states represent the best this nation has to offer. They are the kind of men and women you can rely upon. As Sir Winston Churchill said: “The reservist is twice the citizen.”

Have Lunch On Us” Feeds over 500 First Responders, Law Enforcement Officers, and Line Crews

The Police Jury parking lot was one of the busier restaurants in the parish Sunday, August 30 as a civic minded group of businesses, governmental organizations, NSU volunteers and service organizations came together to thank the men and women who have come from across the nation to assist our community in hurricane recovery with a free lunch.

In addition to local first responders, law enforcement and essential workers, line crews have come from Texas, Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Indiana to augment local crews in restoring power to our hard hit state. National Guard Soldiers from Ruston’s 527th Battalion are lending their engineering expertise and heavy equipment to clearing roads and repairing damaged infrastructure. These men and women are putting in hours of hard, often dangerous, work in sweltering heat.

This almost impromptu lunch is an example of some of the wonderful things about life in a small town. Someone saw a need and a few calls were made. In a few days a group of people came together to feed over 500 men and women from our local community and from across our nation and to thank them for the vital work that they do. America was at its finest in a parking lot in rural Louisiana today.

Many thanks to: Bank of Montgomery, Natchitoches DA Billy Joe Harrington, Natchitoches Jaycees, Family Doctors of Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area, Historic District Business Association, Les Amies, Lagniappe Homecare, Exchange Bank, City Bank, Lasyone’s NSU Cheer, Natchitoches Flipping Athletics, and Natchitoches Service League for putting on this wonderful event on such short notice.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal would also like to thank the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 527th Battalion and wish its soldiers deploying to Afghanistan Godspeed as they serve our country overseas.

Monster at the End of the Book

By Reba Phelps

When I was young I attended the Pre-School of Eva Gail Procell. I never attended a daycare or attended pre-kindergarten. But, this was somewhat common back in those days. I vividly remember cooking with my mom, cleaning house and most importantly, stopping for the soap operas. This would be the beginning of my love for a story well told.

Aside for learning the basics in life she also took time to read my favorite books. As most parents will agree, when a child finds a favorite book they want it read aloud at least five times a day. The child also knows that if you skip a page or read too fast then you must start over. You must take your time and enjoy it as if it were new every single time.

My book of choice was a Sesame Street book called, “The Monster at the end of this Book”. Gosh, it never got old. It would make me laugh beyond control. Side splitting humor. It was almost as if it was new every time she read it. The plot involved the lovable character, Grover, as he was trying his best to keep you from turning the pages of the book. Only because there was a scary monster at the end of it.

He was only protecting the reader of the book.

Grover used every obstacle that he could think of to keep you safe. He nailed the pages down. He used ropes to tie the pages together. Every time you turn a page Grover gets so upset and begs you not to keep going. He even puts up a heavy duty brick wall that you will surely not be strong enough to get past. Grover evens brags on how strong you are to move past all of his obstacles but complains about the mess you are making along the way.

Once you tear down his last wall he is completely exasperated and gives up. By this point the anticipation and curiosity is so intense that you cannot wait to see this awful and scary monster in which he is trying to prevent from being seen.

My mother was an animated and energetic reader so she really played up the drama while reading to me. She would add extra lines as well, “Reba… are you sure you want to see the monster on the next page?”

Of course I was ready….I had already seen this monster at least one hundred times….and I always marveled at the sight.

Once the very last page was turned and you were mentally prepared to meet the monster you quickly find out that the monster is Grover, himself. Grover was so embarrassed and spent the rest of the book apologizing and trying to laugh off the fact that he was the dreadful monster that everyone should have been afraid to meet.

There is so much truth to this children’s tale that could be applied to my own life this very day.

As hard as it is to admit, sometimes we are the only scary monster found in the pages of our own life’s book. We try to hide all of our monstrous traits that may hint at imperfections. We conceal the bad parts that we don’t want others to notice. And, just like Grover, we work overtime just trying to keep others out when we should be letting them in.

The pages of my book are riddled with a multitude of mistakes, wins, losses and day to day weariness that will occasionally lead to horrible decisions. In life it so much easier to blame others for our own failures. At the end of the day, we are the only one we can blame for our actions. For me, anytime I travel outside the will of God for my life, it simply never ends well. I am definitely my own monster and I am eternally grateful that God sees my heart and knows how my story will end….even though I work overtime to keep him from turning the pages.

“God sees not as man sees for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  –  1 Samuel 16:7

Hurricane Laura and Isle Brevelle

Dr. Mark Guidry and daughter, Ethel Marie travelled on their side-by-side, up and down Isle Brevelle’s Hwy. 484 doing welfare checks on their senior neighbors. Ethel Marie took pictures of all the blocked roads, fallen trees, broken power lines, property damage, and vacation homes (to share with those who live away). This is one of their most dramatic shots of Ethel Marie at the home of a beloved neighbor, JoAnn Rachal. Ethel Marie is slated to begin a Catholic Virtual School of Excellence next week with teachers and classmates from across the country. She plans to write about her Hurricane Laura adventures!!!

City of Natchitoches regarding SWEPCO

From the Desk of Mayor Ronnie Williams, City of Natchitoches

SWEPCO Update: Some people in the rural areas of Natchitoches have been restored but it seems most still don’t have power. The representative said that they have about 3,000 additional workers working to restore electricity. They’ve had poles and transmission lines down similar to the city of Natchitoches. One issue that SWEPCO encountered is related to lodging for their employees and contractors. Seemingly, a local business has opened its doors for their employees. This will allow their linemen more time to work on restoring power. If you receive energy from SWEPCO, as I do, you may have a couple more days before power is restored.

Cleco restores power to over 80,000 customers

PINEVILLE, La. – Aug. 30, 2020 (9:30 p.m. update) – As of 9 p.m., Cleco crews have restored power to over 80,000 of the 140,000 customers affected by Hurricane Laura after it made landfall in southwest Louisiana Thursday.

Customer outages by parish as of 9 p.m.
Acadia – 16
Allen – 5,917
Avoyelles – 1,472
Beauregard – 5,122
Calcasieu – 2,461
Catahoula – 18
Desoto – 476
Evangeline – 513
Grant – 6,862
Iberia – 5
Jefferson Davis – 39
Lasalle – 15
Natchitoches – 646 NO CHANGE!
Rapides – 26,646
Red River – 27
Sabine – 3,846
St. Landry – 28
St. Mary – 9
Vernon – 5,685

SWEPCO Restores Power to Nearly 60% of Customers Since Storm Hit

SWEPCO has restored power to 81,000 customers who lost service when Hurricane Laura hit central and northwest Louisiana.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, about 18,000 customers in the Shreveport-Bossier area and 37,000 in central Louisiana remained without power.

At the peak Thursday, 136,000 customers in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas were without power.

“We’ve been working around the clock since Hurricane Laura hit at a scale that SWEPCO has not seen in recent history,” said Drew Seidel, SWEPCO vice president of Distribution Region Operations. “We appreciate the continued patience of customers as SWEPCO employees and our nearly 3,000 out-of-state partners work to restore power.”

Estimated Times of Restoration

Power will be restored to 95% of customers in cities and surrounding areas before the estimates listed below:

· Bossier City – 10 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1

· Haughton – 10 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1

· Shreveport – 10 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2

· Mansfield – 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1

· Hornbeck, Natchitoches and Logansport – 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3

Customers without power who are on life support systems or need uninterrupted electric service for health reasons should make alternate arrangements.

Louisiana residents can call 211 to find cooling centers and other assistance.

Working Safely

· Workers are practicing social distancing and other measures to stay healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus, making the recovery effort especially challenging.

· Maintain at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and SWEPCO field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

· Also, be careful when driving or walking in all utility crew work zones.

Public Safety

· Downed power lines – Never touch a downed utility wire, no matter how harmless it looks. It can be difficult to distinguish between a power line and a cable or telephone line. All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous. And don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity. Keep children and pets away from this potential hazard. Call SWEPCO to report any downed lines or equipment.

· Portable generators – If you use a portable or RV generator, do not plug the generator into your circuit box. Portable generators “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, and plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

When to Call an Electrician

· SWEPCO cannot connect power to a home or business if there is damage to the service entrance, which is owned by the customer.

· Customers need to have a qualified electrician repair this damage before power can be restored. The service entrance includes the metal box housing SWEPCO’s meter, the “weatherhead” pipe on top of the meter box, the service entrance cables running from the weatherhead through the meter box to the inside panel box, and other related facilities. Similar responsibilities apply to underground service.

· After repairs are made, contact SWEPCO to have power restored.

Picture:  Show SWEPCO working the Natchitoches Area

NSUCampus updates & information from Dr. Maggio


“Good Afternoon. I know many of you in the NSU family continue to struggle with the aftermath and recovery efforts from Hurricane Laura. You remain in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time for our university, state and communities. Power has been restored in some areas over the weekend, but there are still large sectors in our service region without electrical service, especially in rural areas.

A number of faculty, staff and students have been on campus in the past few days assisting with clean-up and recovery. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and will be beneficial in allowing the university to quickly resume normal operations.

Because of power outages and storm damage cleanup and recovery, all classes, face-to-face and online, have been cancelled for the coming week and will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 8:00 a.m. Anything course-related including, but not limited to, due dates, assignments, and tests, will be adjusted. Please be patient as many instructors are without power or internet service and are unable to update their course due dates at this time.

Many offices at the University will begin re-opening tomorrow, Monday, Aug. 31, and others will resume operations throughout the week to ensure that we are providing assistance and services for our students.

Some of our personnel continue to face hardships related to the storm, and it is understandable that they might not be able to return to work immediately. Supervisors will advise us tomorrow of capabilities for reopening their offices and staff availability and we will continue to keep you updated.”

For info on each campus, please visit NSU.la/LauraAug30.

City of Natchitoches Opportunity: Events Center General Manager

POSITION: Natchitoches Events Center – General Manager

DESCRIPTION: Directs the day to day operations of the Events Center including development, programming, financial management, marketing, operations and community relations for the facility.

QUALIFICATIONS: Degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Communications or related field. Prior experience in a related field is preferred.

CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine Street, or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037. Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City hall, located at 700 Second St., or you may download an application on line at http://www.natchitochesla.gov

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted Through: September 8, 2020


Hire Only Licensed Arborists to Work on Storm-Damaged Trees

Baton Rouge – As cleanup from Hurricane Laura begins, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is reminding residents to hire only professional-licensed arborists to perform work on storm-damaged trees.

“Anyone doing tree work in Louisiana is required to obtain a license through the LDAF,” Strain said. “Hiring only licensed-professional arborists protects you, the homeowner, since licensed arborists are not only trained to properly execute tree work, but they must also maintain liability insurance. I also urge you to get a written estimate and, while you may be required to pay a reasonable deposit, you should never pay for the job in full up front.”

“Following hurricanes, we see an increased number of people going door-to-door offering tree services,” Strain said. “When hiring an arborist to remove storm-damaged trees, always ask to see their license and a current copy of the arborist’s liability insurance certificate.”

According to the Louisiana horticulture law: No person shall receive fees, advertise or solicit business in a regulated profession or occupation unless this person holds the appropriate license or permit, or has a regular employee who holds the appropriate license or permit, or is employed by a person who holds the appropriate license or permit. In addition, all licensees are required to place their license numbers on all business-related vehicles that have advertisements on them.

No license is required for someone doing tree debris removal, which includes cutting up and hauling away fallen trees.

Strain added that any work on a tree or portion of a tree still standing will require an arborist license.

Melrose Plantation closed until further notice

Like so many others in western Louisiana, Melrose Plantation has been impacted by Hurricane Laura. The historic site will remain closed until further notice. We are so grateful that the historic buildings, artifacts, and artworks were spared. However, there has been extensive damage to our beautiful grounds and we are working diligently to clean up and restore the site. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this storm. Stay safe Louisiana, and we will welcome y’all back soon!

We will continue to post updates on our Facebook page (Melrose Plantation) and our website (melroseplantation.org)

Multi-parish Burn Ban Issued Following Hurricane Laura

BATON ROUGE- State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning and Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain have issued a cease and desist order for all private burning, pursuant to authority under R.S. 40:1602, for the following parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, Jackson, Jeff Davis, LaSalle, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, Union, Vernon and Winn.

Private burning shall only be allowed by permission of the local fire department or local government. This order is effective as of 8 a.m., August 31, 2020 and shall remain in effect until rescinded.

“The extensive damage caused Hurricane Laura includes several water systems. That means many communities are without adequate water service for potential fire suppression needs,” said State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, “This order will hopefully assist local first responders by reducing unnecessary fire calls that they will be challenged to answer due to a lack of infrastructure, resources and personnel already tasked with Laura recovery efforts.”

This ban shall not apply to prescribed burns by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, by those trained and certified by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, or by those who conduct prescribed burning as a “generally accepted agriculture practice” as defined by the Louisiana Right to Farm Law

(R.S. 3:3601 et seq.).

Violation of this Fire Marshal order could result in criminal and/or civil penalties.


DOTD begins debris pickup following the aftermath of Hurricane Laura

Baton Rouge- The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announces that beginning on Monday, August 31, crews will begin debris pickup of debris on state right of way in the Acadiana and Central regions that were impacted by Hurricane Laura. There are thousands of miles of state right of way impacted and DOTD staff and contractors will be making more than one pass through many areas. As other impacted areas become clear, crews will be move into those areas to address the state right of way.

Crews will start removal on the following routes:

• LA 119 in Natchitoches Parish
• LA 121 in Rapides Parish
• LA 505 in Winn Parish
• LA 167 in Grant Parish
• LA 474 in Sabine Parish
• LA 107 in Avoyelles Parish
• LA 463 in Vernon Parish
• I-10 from the Texas state line to Acadia Parish line
• I-210 from West Jct to East Jct in Calcasieu Parish
• US 90 from LA 109 in Toomey to the Acadia Parish line
• US 190 from the Texas state line to the Acadia Parish line
• US 165 from US 90 to the Rapides Parish line
• US 171 from US 90 to the Vernon Parish line
• LA 12 from the Texas state line to US 171
• LA 27 (west of Calcasieu River) from LA 82 to Vernon Parish line
• LA 27 (east of Calcasieu River) from LA 82 to LA 14
• LA 14 from LA 27 to US 171
• LA 26 from Vermilion Parish Line to US 171
• LA 93 from LA 182 to the Lafayette Parish line in St. Landry Parish
• LA 89 from LA 92 to the Iberia Parish line
• LA 1252 from the Lafayette Parish line to LA 92
• US 90 from Parkerson Ave. in Crowley to the Lafayette Parish line
• LA 95 from LA 365 to LA 178
• LA 319 in St. Mary Parish
• LA 376 in Evangeline Parish
• LA 82 from the Cameron Parish line to LA 3147
• LA 344 from W. LA 86 to E. LA 86
• LA 96 from LA 182 to LA 31

Given the magnitude of the disaster and the amount of debris produced, the department will conduct the first pass of pick up before starting a second pass of pickups. Citizens are asked to be patient and where possible move debris to the roadway, not in travel lanes so the pickups will be effective.

Motorists can view where crews are, where they are going, and how many miles of roadway were cleared through an interactive map on 511la.org beginning the evening of Monday, Aug. 31. DOTD appreciates the public’s patience and reminds traveling motorists to drive with caution through all construction sites and to look out for work crews and their equipment.

Travelers can also access this information by visiting the 511 Traveler Information Web site at http://www.511la.org

UPDATE: City of Natchitoches 10am Saturday


Some of our utility customers are starting to see restoration of power. Utility crews continue to work diligently to restore power in the City of Natchitoches. As of now 65% of our customers have been restored, but there is still a lot of work to do. A huge thanks to the City of Natchitoches’ Utility Department for their efforts to date.

Natchitoches has also started receiving donations of which we are truly grateful.

Remember Sunday, August 30, at mid-day the National Guard have a POD (Point of Distribution) set up to distribute Water, MRE’s, and Ice to citizens of Natchitoches Parish.

Locations are as follows:

  1. Natchitoches Central High School
  2. Lakeview High School

More updates will be available as we receive them.

UPDATE: Cleco has restored power to over 55,000 customers

As of Midnight, Cleco has restored power to over 55,000 customers who lost power after Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwest Louisiana yesterday.

This is day one, our first full day of storm restoration work, and we’re making progress,” said James Lass, director of distribution operations and emergency management.While we continue to make progress, we are still finding significant damage, so we want customers to know it will take time. According to experts, Laura is the worst storm to hit Louisiana since 1856.

Cleco also is reminding customers using portable generators to do so safely.

“Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of a portable generator,” said Lass.Operate generators in a well-ventilated area, away from combustible material and never run a generator indoors.

Cleco will be able to provide more details on restoration progress in specific towns and cities in the coming days. In the meantime, the company asks that customers not stop crews, as they are driving and working. Not only is it not safe, it slows power restoration work.

Below are outages by parish end of the day: 

Acadia –
Allen – 5,917
Avoyelles – 2,354
Beauregard – 5,122
Calcasieu – 2,461
Catahoula – 18
Desoto – 1,336
Evangeline – 3,998
Grant – 7,659
Iberia – 1,001
Jefferson Davis – 39
Lasalle – 15
Natchitoches – 646
Rapides – 39,323
Red River – 41
Sabine – 6,363
St. Landry – 559
St. Mary – 535
Vernon – 5,684

reminds customers to operate generators in wellventilated area.


City of Natchitoches Updates Citizens on power restoration


Today was another long and hot day for our city residents and utility crews as everyone worked to clear debris from their property and continue working to restore power to our customers.

CLECO has found the problem and is working to make the necessary repairs to restore the feed to the city. We are still uncertain just how long this will take and are asking you to remain patient.

We have been told Sunday at midday we will have two distribution centers: Natchitoches Central and Lakeview High School that will provide water, MREs, and ice for anyone in need.

Information is constantly changing so please monitor for updated information.

Many phone lines are still down for city government and local law enforcement making it hard to update our citizens.

If you know a friend, relative or neighbor who does not have access to the internet, please help us keep them informed.

NPSB Announces the Acceptable Forms of Facial Coverings

The Natchitoches Parish School Board has taken many protective measures to ensure the safety of all students and faculty in Natchitoches Parish for the 2020-2021 school year. With guidance from the CDC, as well as the Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, NPSB has announced the acceptable face coverings for the upcoming school year.

NPSB highly recommends masks as the most effective facial covering for students and faculty. However, many questions have been asked about whether or not “neck gaiters” would be an alternative for masks. According to the CDC, it has yet to be proven if neck gaiters provide any benefit as source control to protect individuals from the spread of respiratory particles. 

NPSB will not recommend neck gaiters as a substitute for cloth facial coverings. Neck gaiters may only be used by a student or faculty member until an appropriate face covering can be secured. NPSB also states that face shields may be used as an alternative for masks, only if the individual has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

More information regarding the proper guidelines of facial coverings and other protective measures can be found in the NPSB Strong Start F.A.Q. located on the district’s website at https://npsb.la/strong-start-2020.

About Natchitoches Parish School Board

The Natchitoches Parish School Board meets the challenges required to raise academic standards and positively impact student achievement throughout all of Natchitoches Parish. We are committed to a policy of educating children by helping them to develop an awareness and appreciation for the achievements, problems and aspirations of all people in our culturally diverse society.

Gov. Edwards Signs Order Extending Phase Two and Other Restrictions in Louisiana Until September 11

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an order that extends Phase Two and the statewide mask mandate, closure of bars to on-site consumption and gathering size limits in Louisiana for another two weeks, until September 11, 2020. Despite progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the state, The White House Coronavirus Task Force still has Louisiana in the red zone for new cases, just as schools and colleges return to campus and Hurricane Laura is set to impact the state. Further, almost half of the state’s parishes have positivity rates in excess of 10 percent.

The Governor’s current order expires on Friday, August 28. He signed a new order today.

“Louisiana has seen improvement in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and this would not be possible without the hard work of the people of Louisiana who have faithfully followed the mitigation measures, including wearing their masks when in public,” Gov. Edwards said. “While we have seen drops in hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases, we also know that we have more people moving around because of schools and colleges going back to in-person classes, which is one of the reasons we will stay in Phase 2 for another two weeks. The White House Coronavirus Task Force also continues to recommend that Louisiana keep its current mitigation measures in place, as Louisiana remains in the red zone for new cases and many of our parishes continue to have testing positivity rates higher than 10 percent.

Just this week, I had a conversation with Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the response for the White House, and she noted Louisiana’s improvement, but also recommended that we keep the current measures in place until we get positivity, cases and hospitalizations even lower. In addition, Hurricane Laura has caused Louisiana to pause its testing, which means that we will be flying blind with data for a couple of weeks when we need it the most to gauge the impact of resuming K-12 schools and higher education. Finally, tens of thousands of our neighbors from southwestern Louisiana, the area with the highest priority, ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall, and there will be additional sheltering after the storm – perhaps for an extended period of time. Extending Phase 2 until September 11 will allow us time to restart our testing and assess where we are after the storm.”