Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on August 27, the strongest hurricane to strike the state since 1856. With 150-mph winds, it destroyed homes, businesses, and parts of the state’s power grid.
Fortunately, our mills in Alexandria, Florien and Oakdale sustained only minimal damage from wind and water but they were unable to operate due to the wide-scale power outage.
“We finally got power back on September 2,” said Chris Seymour, Manufacturing Operations. “The Southern team did an amazing job preparing for the hurricane, reacting to the infrastructure and people issues, but their work is not yet done.”
Another very real problem was food and water. Associates jumped in to help each other out.
“My wife Jackie and I personally picked up 320 cases of water to distribute to local residents. That’s 12,800 bottles of water and 60 large blue tarps. Those were the first supplies available on Sunday for our area near the EWP plant,” said Rush Bolton, Southern Region IT Manager, who is also a volunteer emergency first responder. “I transported the same amount to the Taylor Hill Fire Department for them to distribute around the community.”
Many people were without power for nearly a week – unable to refrigerate food, cook, or do laundry. The regional leadership set up 24-hour catering at each plant to feed associates and even hooked up washer and dryer machines on site.
“We sent ready-to-eat meals home for families. The sales and transportation team jumped in to help find more water and other supplies for us,” said Scott Kreps, Southern Region Manager. “Several members of our management team that have the resources have been cooking for the masses.”
“The food and the water are of great help. Power is still down in some of our homes, but we feel blessed to have a home that is still standing. Thankful to be back at work,” said Brodie Barber who works in Florien.
Everyone jumped in to help where they could. Scott Kreps, his wife Wendy and daughter Korie have been volunteering with the Veterans Association and Red Cross to feed and pass out supplies. The Oakdale management team cooked for the electrical line workers who have been restoring power to the community. James Bullock (assistant plant manager), his wife Jamie, and TJ Miller (plant supervisor) helped clear trees off other associates’ properties.
“We will continue to do what what’s needed to support our people, their families and our communities,” said Mike Brown, Division EVP.