One dead, thousands without power
Jackson Parish has endured many natural disasters over the years such as fires, floods and tornadoes but never before have residents had to deal with what took place this past Thursday. That is when Hurricane Laura tore through the area leaving a mind blowing wake of destruction that left the entire parish without power, many without water, forced the closures of almost every major artery. Worst of all was a death caused when a tree fell on a mobile home.
“We are still assessing the damage but I can say that from what I know right now this is going to go down as one of the worst natural disasters we have ever had to endure,” said long time Jackson Parish Police Jury Road Superintended Jody Stuckey just a few hours after the storm passed.
Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown was in agreement.
“In the 30 years that I have served Jackson Parish there have been many times I have seen certain areas of the parish receive terrible damage as the result of storms, tornadoes or floods,” said Brown. “I have never seen the entire parish be affected this bad. There was not one single road that I traveled on that there wasn’t a tree across it.”
Storm claims life of John Holland
The worst effect of all was when John Holland, who resided Ayers Loop which is located east of Jonesboro off of Hwy 4 East was killed when a tree fell through his mobile home. He was 51 years old. It is one of four fatalities across the state attributed to trees falling on homes with the others being in Acadia and Vernon Parishes. Two additional deaths were also reported in south Louisiana. One was from carbon monoxide poisoning when a person used a generator inside of his home and another who drowned when his boat was capsized.
Strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in state!
According to Governor Jon Bel Edwards during his Thursday afternoon press conference Laura is the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in Louisiana in modern history. The Category 4 storm with roaring winds of 150 miles an hour came ashore near Cameron, LA riding a 9-12 foot storm surge which caused devastating flooding took place along the coastline. Hurricane force winds stayed in place until the storm was nearly into Arkansas.
Devastating local effect!
Continuous heavy downpours and wind gusts that gradually became stronger until the eye passed west
of Jonesboro around 1:00 pm wreaked total havoc. By early afternoon all power in the parish had been knocked out and virtually every road was impassable due to trees falling. Water pumping issues then surfaced leaving residents having to endure the night without electricity and water. Later attempts by residents to purchase gasoline, food or supplies were futile as almost all businesses were forced to close.
The carnage was incredible. As soon as it became safe to react though the process of restoring power and services as well as clearing roads began. This is mainly due to the astute planning by state and local officials along with the Emergency Preparedness Response Team of Jackson Parish led by director Mark Treadway as electrical and tree cutting crews from surrounding states and neighboring parishes had already been stationed in the area in preparation of the damage caused.
Local residents played a big part in the restoration as well. Dedicated employees from the each town or village in the parish, area Fire Departments, crews from the Jackson Parish Police Jury and a score of private citizens pitched in to help their neighbors As of press date there was still no exact date or time as to when to expect energy services to be restored. Residents are advised to go to the Energy.com website for updates.
National Guard comes to aid of those in need!
On Friday the National Guard was stationed at the Delta Community College complex located on Industrial Drive in Jonesboro just off of Hwy 167 South as they handed out MRE’s and water to those in need.
Friday traffic accident indirectly caused by storm
Emergency response teams were called to the scene of an accident involving an 18 wheeler and a vehicle Friday morning. The location was at the intersection of Cooper Avenue and Jimmie Davis Boulevard. No further information was available at time of press but it is known that an Air Ambulance was called in to transport one of the victims. The red-light at that intersection was not working due to damages caused by the Hurricane.
Sheriff Brown urges residents to be safe
“You can replace material things but a lost life is never recoverable. I am deeply saddened for the family of John Holland and our prayers go out to the family,” said Brown. “I am also thankful to God for sparing us from what could have been possibly many more lives lost or people injured. Many trees came down that if they had fallen in the other direction would have destroyed homes and possibly injured or killed many others.”
“I urge our residents to realize that we have experienced a major natural disaster. Please be safe in what you do,” continued Brown. “If you don’t have to travel, please stay off the roads. Power lines are down
all over the parish and many are still not cleared completely. Stay home and stay safe.”