Labeled as a Category 4 Hurricane, Laura made its way to north Louisiana with enough strength to cause severe damage to the City of Minden, which led to one of the longest power outages that the City has seen in recent history.
City of Minden employees worked tirelessly through the end of last week until they achieved their ultimate goal of restoring power to all citizens. Departments blurred boundaries as the employees simply did whatever was necessary in order to help the city get through the emergency.
“What made everything go so smoothly for us was the planning. We met and planned everything out. All of the different departments crossed over and did other things, which speaks well to the cross-training that the city has in the place,” said Mayor Terry Gardner.
“Our city is one of the only cities in North Louisiana that’s 100% energized. Other cities around our area are not, and I don’t know what the reasoning for that is, but I do know that we are very blessed with strong leadership in our city within our different departments, and they did an amazing job getting the city back on.”
The power outages also caused an issue with a water pump, causing it to fail. Without a back-up generator, the city could have potentially had to call a mandatory boil.
“The Germantown substation powers that water plant, and we got down to 40%. The thing about it is, you don’t want to completely drain that water tank, because then you have a mandatory boil. There is a difference between a boil advisory and mandatory boil. Talking to other city employees who have been here thirty plus years, the city has never had a mandatory boil, so we were working feverishly trying to get that tank filling, which we did,” said Gardner.
Luckily, when fixing the problem, the city had multiple options, with both Fribrebond providing a generator for the city of Minden to use, as well as Brian Williams, Director of the Webster parish Office of Homeland Security, securing a generator from the state.
“I called Graham Walker about needing a generator to power our Germantown Water System, and when I called Graham and asked if they had one that we could rent, he wouldn’t allow us to rent one, but he supplied us with the generator, a trailer, and his men to come out and get it installed,” said Gardner.
Williams’ generator that he secured through the state is ultimately the one that was able to keep Minden from going into a mandatory boil. “Once I was made aware of the power outage and no generator for the water system, we put in a request through the state of Louisiana, and they got them one within six hours.”
This prompt response from both a local businesses and WPOHSEP show that when the time calls for it, there are people here to ensure that the City’s needs are met.
Some appreciation was expressed through businesses who took it upon themselves to help feed the city employees who were working hard to restore everyone’s power.
“Hugh Wood fed them Jambalaya on the first night that everyone worked extremely late. Walmart donated everything for lunch for two days for all of our employees. We appreciate the community support from all of our businesses,” said Gardner.
Mayor Gardner also shared praise for the community for their understanding while the power was out, and their appreciation after the City got it turned back on.
“The community themselves, all of our citizens, were very understanding. They made the phone calls that I asked them to do, we explained them the situation, and as a whole they were very supportive,” said Gardner.
“We appreciate our community and the spirit they had, as well as the tremendous amount of thank yous we received on Facebook and from phone calls.”
Director of WPOHSEP Brian Williams stated that as of Monday morning, less than a 100 people are still without power and all water systems are functional.
“If the hurricane would not have turned more east when it moved through Natchitoches, we would’ve been hit harder than we were. Now it’s just getting all the debris picked up,” said Williams.
He also requested that citizens be careful when driving around town, and that if they see a public works crew picking up debris, to slow down and drive safely around them.
“We feel very fortunate that while other cities around us are still in the dark, we’re completely energized. In fact, two of our line crews have gone to Ruston to help restore one of our sister cities’ utilities,” said Gardner.
“I hope our citizens realize how blessed we are to have the efficient employees that we have, it’s just amazing. Every city employee and every volunteer fireman, they were out on the job, and because of them, everything just went smoothly.”