It has been two weeks since Hurricane Laura barreled through Southwest Louisiana leaving a path of destruction. With sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour, homes and businesses were destroyed, trees uprooted, and power lines twisted and tangled. Today as the daunting task of clearing roadways, repairing homes and businesses, and restoring power continues, it is anticipated that recovery could take months and possibly a full year. Georgia-Pacific is just one of many businesses and organizations reaching across the Texas border to help those impacted by the storm.
Armed with more than one thousand hot meals, the local forest products company traveled to DeQuincy, Louisiana this week to feed the community. “Hurricane Laura’s widespread destruction has left the small community of DeQuincy in shambles,” said Yana Ogletree, Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Manager. “Residents need the basic necessities as they begin the recovery process. With no power or water, we wanted to provide a good hot nourishing meal for residents.”
Hundreds of vehicles lined up to take advantage of the complimentary lunch catered by Texas Custom Catering of Lufkin. Good old-fashioned Texas barbecue brisket, beans, macaroni and cheese, rolls, desert, and drinks were on the menu as Georgia-Pacific employees and local fire departments handed out more than 1000 meals. “The response was incredible, and the residents were extremely grateful for the food,” said Ogletree.
It is estimated that the DeQuincy area will not have power fully restored for at least another month. Along with the sounds of chainsaws and utility trucks, is the constant humming of generators providing minimal power to homes and businesses. While the generators have brought some relief to homeowners, they have also created mounting concern of carbon monoxide poisoning. “We are responding to potential carbon monoxide poisoning calls daily,” said Heather Baggett, Beauregard Fire District #2 Volunteer. “We are finding that many people aren’t using the generators safely and are positioning them too close to their dwellings.”
Georgia-Pacific is hoping to provide some peace of mind for residents using generators by donating 300 carbon monoxide detectors. According to Ogletree, the area volunteer fire departments are distributing the devices to area homeowners in the southern part of Beauregard Parish on a first come, first serve basis or during emergency calls where carbon monoxide poisoning is a concern.
DeQuincy is home to a Georgia-Pacific Lumber mill, which was recently idled earlier this year. Today that property is a temporary home to more than 600 utility workers who are in the area restoring power. “Beauregard Electric Coop is being supported by about a dozen different electric companies from throughout the United States—and as you can imagine—finding an area to house that many people and equipment was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, we were able to offer our site as a camp for the next couple of months,” said Ogletree.
The temporary campsite sits on approximately 100 acres at Georgia-Pacific’s DeQuincy Lumber Mill. The set-up is amazing with custom tents complete with flooring and air conditioning used for dormitories and a large commissary, while shower trailers, supply trailers, fueling stations, and hundreds of trucks and pieces of equipment fill the property. “We are pleased that we are in a position to provide relief to the people of Southwest Louisiana. With everyone working together, we can help expedite the rebuilding process and restore some type of normalcy in the lives of those impacted by the storm,” said Ogletree.