Articles About Bogalusa After Katrina
Washington Parish felled by tall pines 09/04/05
Fuel, food run short as trees block roads; electricity, phone lines severed
By DEBRA LEMOINE Florida parishes bureau
BOGALUSA -- The miles of long, tall pines that are the pride and economy of Washington Parish turned out to be
its biggest danger on Monday when Hurricane Katrina plowed through the parish.
"Our pine trees, as beautiful as they are, became our liability," said Parish Councilman Chuck Nassawer from
Along La. 10 through Bogalusa, pine trees lay in the middle of living rooms, garages and bedrooms of houses five
days after the storm. Every other home has a pine tree on top of it, and no home seems to have escaped fallen
trees in the yard.
The downed pine trees are a mixture of tree trunks snapping in half and being uprooted from the ground.
Residents believe tornadoes must have struck near Bogalusa.
Franklinton, the parish seat, fared better with fewer homes damaged by the storm.
Yet, the main highways of the parish are cleared, leaving enormous piles of cut-up tree trunks on the side of the
roads. Rural roads remain blocked by pine trees, and residents seeking a way out must cut their way through.
What those trees took with them are the lifelines of the parish -- the electrical power lines, telephone wires and
cellular phone towers to communication the parish residents need to reach the outside world.
No one in Washington Parish has electrical power, except for those with generators. Hospitals and municipal water
systems are run with generator power.
The lights won't come back on for at least a month, said Parish President Tory Taylor.
By Saturday, a phone line between Bogalusa and Franklinton was put up, but no one can make calls outside the
parish, although they can receive long-distance telephone calls. Before that, Taylor was using ham radios to
contact the Tangipahoa Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness to rely information, or officials drove to Baton
The good news is that, so far, officials know of no deaths related to the storm, Taylor and Sheriff Aubrey Jones
The bad news is that people are running out of food. In Bogalusa and Franklinton, there are Federal Emergency
Management Agency staging areas where people can receive food, water and ice sent by FEMA and collect
donations by churches and private citizens.
At a distribution site in Franklinton, Timothy and Eden Boudreaux of Pine spent four hours handing out supplies to
hungry residents. They themselves showed up to the site because they no longer had food but decided to stay
because they needed help.
"All the food we had is gone," Eden Boudreaux said as she handed crates of water to drivers. "We're down to
canned food and any rations we can get today."
She and her husband had eaten nothing on Saturday except the Gatorade they drank at the distribution site.
They consider themselves lucky. There is no property damage and they obtained a generator and some gasoline
in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Friday. Their water well now works and they can sit in a wading pool of water to cool off.
The Boudreauxs and parish officials worry about the rural residents who can't get to the distribution sites in the
towns because they either don't have gasoline or they can't get through the trees blocking their roads.
Like most places in hurricane- stricken areas, fuel is gold. Every vital service for the parish, including ambulances,
security, food storage and water and sewer pumps relies on gasoline for generators.
Taylor issued emergency declarations Tuesday to seize all the fuel from gas stations for use by emergency
generators for hospitals and water systems and emergency vehicles.
FEMA stationed four fuel trucks in Bogalusa before the storm, but someone -- Taylor doesn't know who -- got
permission to drive away with three of them. Taylor said he told the police watching the trucks to slash the tires if
they had to keep them in the parish.
The Parish Council then bought two 10,000-gallon tanks of diesel fuel for emergency use for $60,000 on Friday,
Taylor said. The parish only has $200,000 in discretionary funds in a budget that is close to $6 million annually,
On Thursday, the pumps reopened and began selling gasoline with 10-gallon limits per vehicle, Taylor said.
Taking the gas has not pleased residents such as the Boudreauxs, who said they couldn't run generators or get to
places to buy supplies. Residents drove to Baton Rouge or Hattiesburg, looking for gas and food.
What little help Washington Parish has received has come from a mixture of donations and federal resources.
Taylor said he is frustrated with the response -- or lack of response -- from FEMA. Taylor began driving to Baton
Rouge on Thursday making tearful pleas for help through WWL radio's temporary Baton Rouge studio.
Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes have shared what federal aid they've received. Livingston Parish officials
have even redirected FEMA trucks sent there to Washington Parish. A FEMA truck of water originally sent to
Livingston arrived late Saturday afternoon in Franklinton.
Taylor said the parish is still trying to stabilize water and food supplies for its two main towns.
Parish resources are overwhelmed and the parish needs everything from food to people to relieve the medical and
law enforcement personnel who worked nonstop since Monday.
Destruction and Dejection
Lack of basic needs impacted all, especially those who can least afford it
By John H. Walker
The Daily News
Everywhere one looked Friday afternoon in Bogalusa, the scene was the same. More than four days after Hurricane
Katrina made landfall twice - first between Grand Isle and the mouth of the Mississippi River and later, along the
Mississippi Gulf Coast - Bogalusans were still struggling.
No power ... little water for a number of residents ... no food ... no gas.
For some, little hope.
"What do we do?" a woman wandering among the hundreds of people gathered in the Wal-Mart shopping center
The crowd had gathered in part because of the precious cargo hauled in on two 8,000 gallon tank trucks. Water.
"How much is it?" a young woman with an infant in her arms asked?
"Nothing," she was told by another woman in the parking lot. "It's free ... you can get all you got things to hold it in."
And while it would be hard to imagine any place looking any harder hit than Bogalusa, it was clear that progress had
been made since Katrina changed everyone's life forever.
By Friday afternoon, navigating the streets was easier. Yes, there were still the occasional power lines that hung low
or trees that leaned precariously close to the highway, as did one huge pine on Highway 10 just on the northern
outskirts of town - held up only by a set of electrical and telephone lines - but by and large, the streets were cleared.
On Tuesday, getting around town was a needle-in-a-haystack effort ... starting down one street only to have to either
turn around if there was the luxury of room or back out and look for another route.
Still, the lack of the basic necessities impacted everyone - but hurt those most who could least afford it.
SPECIAL REPORT: KATRINA: THE AFTERMATH
Business Week Online - SEPTEMBER 6, 2005 09:06 AM
Finding Katrina's "Forgotten"
By Brian Grow
A trip through southern Mississippi and Louisiana reveals scenes of desperation in storm-ravaged towns that are off
rescuers' radar for now Katrina-battered residents of the Gulf Coast are engaged in a wrestling match between
heartbreak and hope. Much of the focus, understandably, has been on the plight of desperate New Orleanians. But in
the counties and parishes of southern Mississippi and Louisiana, the damage and desperation are also
Help here is still arriving in a trickle. A lone Army National Guardsman in full flack jacket stands watch with an M-16 at
the Bogalusa Medical Center in Bogalusa, La., 70 miles north of New Orleans.
The lack of information is making matters worse. Some people are driving 80 miles to Baton Rouge for gas -- wasting
precious fuel -- unaware that cities closer by have stations open. That's why some in this region of hardscrabble
towns, saw mills, and scrub brush are calling themselves "the forgotten."
ON THEIR OWN FOR NOW. Uncaptured by the national media so far, the long-term damage to lives, homes, and
businesses here is as real as in New Orleans or Biloxi, Miss.. From Highway 98 in Mississippi and south along State
Roads 35 and 41 in Louisiana, Katrina's rage twisted the tops off pine trees like bottle caps. Towns and hamlets such
as Slidell, La., and Columbia, Miss., are under martial law, with curfews from dusk until dawn.
A security guard in Bogalusa declares life has returned "to the Stone Age." Looters have stolen the furniture off of
her Daddy's porch, says an assistant manager at the local Wal-Mart in Columbia, and driven off with Harley-Davidson
motorcycles from Big Easy Choppers in Slidell. Vandals have smashed the windows of quick-loan shops.
As aid and attention begins to flood into New Orleans, help will come here. But for now, people and towns on the
edges of the Katrina zone are on their own. I traveled the region's back roads this weekend to see how they're
coping. Here's what I saw:
Stench, Sleep, and Repairs
At the Spaceway Truck Plaza & Restaurant west of Meridian, Miss., piles of people were lined up at lunch tables
inside the cafeteria. Most of them were refugees from New Orleans, as well as the Mississippi cities of Gulfport and
Biloxi, all roughly 200 miles south. Cars, 10 deep, waited for gas at the eight working pumps. The scene was
As mothers comforted children, exhausted workers from Duke Power and Cingular took breaks. After six days working
nonstop to install generators to power the Cingular Wireless cell-phone network, all Tom Holzknecht wants to do is
His bloodshot eyes and sunburned face tell the story: On Aug. 28, he left his home in Plainview, Ind. Between his
labors, he has been catching quick winks in his hot, musty truck ever since.
One night, he and his fellow contractors were offered hotel rooms near Biloxi. But the stench of rotting garbage,
sewage -- and possibly dead bodies -- was so bad, he says, they stayed in the truck where a breeze through the
windows could cut the odor.
Now, he and other workers on his Wireless Communications Disaster Crew are headed home for a rest. They may be
back, he says, because the damage is so bad. "It's the worst I've ever seen," says Holzknecht, 64, a veteran of repair
work after Hurricanes Floyd and Dennis.
Clinging to the Couch
Russ Wilson sits on his green couch. Not his favorite couch at home, but the rentable one at his furniture shop,
Autumn South Rentals, in Laurel, Miss., 140 miles north of New Orleans. He and wife, Jeanette, have been holed up
there for a week, weathering Katrina in its back room. They can't go home. The hurricane's fury sent two giant pines
through the roof of their abode.
They saw the storm's force from their store, too. The roof of Elegant Evenings, a salon across the square in
downtown Laurel, ripped off and came crashing down on the back of Wilson's pickup truck. "I dove behind the couch,"
says Jeanette. Now, the twisted metal is still parked below the town's flagpole. The American flag flutters, but in tatters.
Flying bricks and debris shattered Autumn South's upstairs windows. The entire downtown square in Laurel is
wrecked. Much of the townfolk have fled.
"The storm is gonna put a stop to business for a while," says Wilson. Power came back on Aug. 31. But the town has
little potable water or gas. So Wilson and his wife sit on the couch in their shop -- and patiently wait for the insurance
adjuster to come. It could be weeks. Like thousands of others in Laurel and beyond, he's hoping to reclaim some of
the life he knew before. But "time is all I've got right now," says Wilson.
"Catching Hell" in Angie
On the ground, it's clear why some hamlets not far from the rattling helicopters and mass evacuation of the Big Easy
aren't yet on the rescue map. Angie, La., is nothing more than a crossroads, a poor town 80 miles north of New
Orleans. Street signs nearby read: "Prison area. Do not pick up hitchhikers."
A lone barbecue restaurant is surrounded by fallen trees. The Angie Farm & Garden Supply store offers crickets and
minnows for sale to local fisherman, but it's shuttered.
The people here are hurting. On Saturday, Sept. 3, the Washington Parish sheriff's department handed out its first
batch of water and ice in a week. Cars, tractors, and four-wheelers flocked to the cow trailer parked at the Angie Fire
Cindy Varnado, who's living in a double-wide trailer with 14 people from four families, has been scrambling for
supplies all week. She drove to Baton Rouge for gas, to Covington, north of New Orleans, for bread, and now
snatches a case of water and four ice bags in Angie. "It's ridiculous," she says. And it's not going to get any better
soon. Varnado's husband, a land surveyor, got word on Friday, Sept. 2, from his boss that there won't be any work
for weeks, if not months.
What's the feeling among the locals, alone and without supplies for the last week? Like "catching hell," says Darrin
Dixon, who works at the local paper mill. He doesn't expect power for six to eight weeks -- and probably no work,
either. Angie's water and ice supply was brief. It ran out in an hour.
Sentinels with Satellite Phones
Levern Meades is crying. The chief administrator of Bogalusa Medical Center is exhausted, frustrated -- and
searching for body bags. Power has been out at his hospital in this town of 13,000, 70 miles north of New Orleans, for
five days. The air in the dark hallways is stifling. At least 14 people have died, including one in Meades' care who
couldn't get a kidney dialysis quick enough.
Meades thinks the bodies are being stored in a refrigerated trailer at a hospital in Franklinton, La., the next town over.
Just after the storm, there were 40 patients in the Bogalusa hospital. Any needing critical care were transported by
the ambulances that could find gas to hospitals in Baton Rouge and Independence, La. Now, five days after the
storm, Meades has pared his patient total down to 14.
Two generators provide meager power that allows the hospital to care for new trauma patients, most coming in now
with chain-saw cuts and heat exhaustion.
Third-year medical students from Louisiana State University, who fled New Orleans last weekend, served as two of his
five doctors on the first night after the storm.
On Aug. 31, he hustled down to the Red Cross rescue center in Baton Rouge to order water and medicine. But much
of it hasn't arrived. "We've been the forgotten parish [county]," says Meades.
ACTION, NOT JUST TALK. But Meades is weeping for another reason, too. He's deeply touched by the outpouring of
help from local citizens -- and perfect strangers. A local cop set up camp in the lobby to keep out looters, and nurses
have worked around the clock. Dr. Richard Hartman, 75, a retired local physician, is serving as the hospital's surgeon
and Emergency Room chief.
Other help has materialized out of nowhere. Daniel G. Fournerat is the general counsel of PetroQuest, an oil and gas
exploration company based in Lafayette, La. After trekking west to Mississippi in search of his father-in-law this week
(he's safe), Fournerat pulled into the Bogalusa Medical Center on Aug. 31 and was gripped by its plight. Since then,
he's used his satellite phone -- one of only three in town -- to call in supplies using a rented helicopter. He found two
extra ambulances in Lafayette and had them driven in. Six PetroQuest executives were due to arrive on Sept. 3 in
their personal SUVs laden with medicine, water, and ice.
Sleeping in Meades' office, Fournerat has become Bogalusa's good Samaritan. He vows not to leave until next week
-- and not before he finds 1,000 oxygen bottles for the hospital. "You hear a lot of people talk," says Meades. "He's
The Sandwich Man Inc. is silent. It's sweltering hot at the company in the town of Pearl River, La., 40 miles north of
New Orleans. Yet, five of the outfit's refrigerated lunch trucks sit idly in the parking lot. No gas, no power, and no
workers gobbling lunch, so business is on hold.
But life goes on after the storm. Managers are trying to save some of its food before it spoils, while a desperate
worker pleads for money. Four letters posted on the front door of The Sandwich Man offices tell the story:
We're O.K. House O.K. Minor damage. Praying for you all.
Jack & Ruth
9/2/05 -- Afternoon. Don't have watch.
I took bread and ham and cheese and mayo. Can't watch it ruin when I found linemen at Cleco do not have enough
food. Wish you could contact these people.... They need us to feed them. We took van to keep stuff cold.
Sorry I couldn't ask.
Everything looks pretty good considering what a storm came through here.... I would like to know everybody made it
alright.... I am trying to relocate a little closer. Maybe we can get this ball rolling again.
I have lost everything. I really need to get my check. I can hopefully get it cashed in Hammond.
Ralph Kastner, owner of Tuff's Equipment Rental, has his knee-high rubber boots on. It's gear de rigeur in Slidell, five
miles from New Orleans. The Louisiana town on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain is now mostly reduced to a
stinking mass of black sludge.
When Katrina hit, a four-foot high wall of water washed out of the lake and into town. It mowed down power lines,
smashed businesses, and flooded homes.
A week on, the water has evaporated, leaving an inch-thick smear of waste that smells like a combination of fish and
At Tuff's, Kastner stacked a dozen forklifts, each raised 10-feet high, around the store's windows in hope of protecting
against the storm -- and looters. Kastner's quick thinking worked. Little was stolen except four generators out of the
back depot. But it wasn't enough to hold back the storm. Every rental truck, forklift, generator, and backhoe is ruined.
Water washed into the engines, gummed up alternators, and shorted out batteries. At least $4.5 million worth of
equipment is lost, Kastner estimates.
At Tuff's Storage, another of Kastner's businesses, the roof was ripped off, and 32 cars parked on the lot were
flooded. "It's total devastation," says Kastner, barely holding back tears. "The sludge is in everybody's house."
Mayor Ben Morris has declared martial law -- and police cars zip up and down the main drag, Route 11. The
get-tough approach has thwarted some looting. "The Mayor said, 'If you see looting, take care of business -- and we'll
worry about it later,'" says Kastner.
But police rule will do little to salvage the town. Speed boats lie smack in the middle of the business district, tossed out
of the lake and the lots of local boat dealers by the storm. A giant truck trailer lies awkwardly against the wall of a
local restaurant. Pickup trucks and Land Rovers in the parking lot at Pontchartrain Fresh Foods are slammed into
pile-ons. The grocery store itself is a mass of Gatorade bottles, boxed soup, and rotting produce in mud.
A homeless woman in dirty pants and an oversized plaid shirt has collected two grocery carts worth of food. She
wonders aloud how the local ducks survived and how all the ravaged businesses will bounce back. "This will really
effect the economy," she says.
Amid the squalor, but with a smile, she offers a reporter some of her newfound food -- a couple of muddy candy bars
and some spoiled apple juice.
Mass. County Sheriff Hits the Road to Aid Isolated La. Mill Town
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff | September 7, 2005
BOGALUSA, La. -- On Sunday, a week after Hurricane Katrina tore through this old paper mill town hard by the
Mississippi line, they still had not received any help from the outside world, and M.E. ''Toye" Taylor, the sleepless,
homeless president of isolated, devastated Washington Parish, started to give up hope.
After church, Taylor, a God-fearing man, dropped to his knees at a friend's house and prayed for somebody,
anybody, to show up. When he turned up dusty Bill Booty Road for the rural fire station that serves as the
emergency headquarters for this parish of 45,000 people, he saw a vision out of Star Wars, a state-of-the-art, $1.2
million mobile command center with a 40-foot satellite tower.
Taylor, 51, hugged Middlesex County Sheriff James V. DiPaola so hard the Massachusetts lawman could hardly
''The sheriff and these boys from Massachusetts, I'll tell you, they were a Godsend," Taylor said. ''They were the
first positive sign we got from the outside world. We thought everybody had forgotten about us."
Moved by the images he had seen on television, and especially by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's plea for help,
DiPaola impulsively organized an eight-vehicle caravan with 17 of his deputies, leaving Boston on Friday evening.
''I couldn't watch anymore," DiPaola said yesterday, standing next to the converted bus that gave this battered
corner of Louisiana its first reliable communication with the outside world since the storm hit. ''We didn't know who
we were going to be able to help when we left. We just hit the road."
On the 28-hour drive down, with Deputy Sheriff Dave Winkowski at the wheel the whole way, DiPaola made contact
with US Rep. Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden, who contacted Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco's office,
asking who needed a bunch of lawmen from Massachusetts with a sophisticated communications network. The
answer was almost immediate: head for Washington Parish.
Taylor praised DiPaola's emotional, impulsive response, saying it was the antidote to a slow federal relief effort that
has been weighed down by red tape and bureaucratic indecision.
''The federal government told us to wait. If you wait for approval, for all that red tape, people will die," said Taylor. He
said at least three, and probably more, of his constituents died waiting for aid at various shelters.
Much attention has been paid to the fate of New Orleans, much less to the damage to people and property in more
isolated regions like this. It was not water, but the 130-mile-per-hour winds that Katrina unleashed on this region
north of Lake Ponchartrain that did the real damage. Bogalusa was founded in 1914 to harvest the trees that
blanket this region, and once boasted the world's biggest sawmill. But Katrina made kindling of more trees than that
sawmill ever did.
Ben Nevers, the state senator who represents Washington Parish and two other parishes, similar to counties, on
Ponchartrain's north shore, said about 70 percent of the homes in 700-square-mile Washington Parish, which
borders Mississippi to the north and east, were damaged; and about half of them are uninhabitable, after trees
standing 50 to 100 feet tall were snapped in half like matchsticks.
''I've been in parishes all over southeastern Louisiana, and I think Washington Parish got hit the hardest, in terms of
damage and devastation," said Nevers.
Yesterday, eight days after the storm hit, there was still no telephone service, no electricity, and no sense of how
long it will take just to clear the thousands of trees that have fallen and sliced through houses.
Tom Thiebaud, the district fire chief who doubles as the local director of homeland security, said he and others were
trapped by fallen trees around the fire station for two days before they could clear a path out. Taylor wrote an SOS
on a single piece of paper and handed it to some National Guard soliders from the local armory, who then picked
their way down to the capital of Baton Rouge, a 100-mile trip that took six hours.
''We were adrift, because we had no communications," said Thiebaud.
A few days later, Nevers and Taylor drove to Baton Rouge and pleaded for help. But it didn't show up until the
Massachusetts contingent rolled into town Sunday morning. ''The biggest difference is the Internet access we got
from Sheriff DiPaola's unit," said Thiebaud. ''It reconnected us with the outside world. We were sailing blind for a
Michael Cagno, who manages the technology for the Middlesex Sheriff's Office, said the Internet access has been
used to coordinate relief efforts. But it also was used to help a couple pay their mortgage online.
DiPaola said he and his deputies plan on staying about two weeks, but he said he may rotate other deputies
The Middlesex county unit was the first -- but not the last -- of New England law enforcement agencies to make an
impact in the devastated region. An advance team of Boston police and Massachusetts State Police and
paramedics from the Boston area arrived in Baton Rouge on Monday and are consulting with local authorities to
figure out where and how they can be best utilized.
Boston Police Deputy Superintendent Patrick Crossen said the Massachusetts officers may be able to relieve New
Orleans officers who have worked to the point of exhaustion. ''We'll do anything that's asked of us," Crossen said.
That generosity of spirit has touched Louisianans.
Taylor, who has barely slept since the storm hit, said the outside help, including ambulance drivers from Chicago
who, like DiPaola, just showed up, has given him hope.
''As bad as the federal government has handled this thing, when you see people just drop everything, and drive in
here from Massachusetts, or Illinois, or wherever, you realize this is one heck of a country, and we're all together,"
Taylor said, choking back tears. ''The only way we get through all of this is if we act as one country."
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
Ice, bread ease some suffering in Bogalusa
September 10, 2005 10:08 AM
By JO CIAVAGLIA
Bucks County Courier Times
Three days ago, the first "luxury" items in nearly two weeks arrived in hurricane-ravaged Bogalusa, La. - ice and
They gobbled it up," said Richboro retiree Keller Taylor, a Red Cross volunteer.
Taylor is helping feed thousands of people in this eastern Louisiana suburb, which took a direct hit from Hurricane
Katrina. About a third of homes have been leveled.
The volunteer is one of two Bucks men who arrived last week into the chaos of Louisiana to help with the historic
Red Cross disaster relief effort. Bristol Township retiree Ed Sherman is assigned to an emergency shelter in Lake
Charles. Three other local Red Cross volunteers arrived in Louisiana this week, and a fourth is in Massachusetts
helping coordinate volunteers.
On Thursday, the first shipment of bread that Bogalusa residents had seen since the Aug. 28 storm arrived. The
day before, Taylor drank his first iced beverage since arriving there a week ago Friday.
Bogalusa remains mostly cut off from the rest of the world, Taylor said. Aside from the Red Cross, the only other
relief agency there is the Southern Baptist Disaster Group, which has chainsaw crews removing fallen trees on
people's homes and on the roads. Utility crews are bulldozing debris to clear roads.
Most residents are living without power or running water, which aren't expected to return for weeks. Inactive,
downed power lines remain scattered all over the roads. Some much-needed trash collection has started. There is
little communication with the outside world. Local officials are putting out fliers with general relief information
Taylor said he was told food stamps soon would be available. "But frankly it won't help until supermarkets are
Martial law is in effect, with the National Guard enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew. There's a ban on alcohol sales
throughout Washington Parish, where Bogalusa is located.
Twice a day - at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. - the Red Cross trucks, with police escorts, pull into the parking lot of a
destroyed gas station off Highway 21."
When we come in, there are people waiting in their cars for us," Taylor said.
Instantly, lines 40-people deep form. Taylor serves about 500 to 600 meals in an hour - an average of about 1,150
meals daily. But it's never enough, he said. Some people leave hungry.
Over the last few days, supply lines have improved significantly. Several truckloads of food arrived, along with
propane, which is used in portable kitchens to cook hot meals, Taylor said.
"We're just going right through it," he said about the latest supplies.
Bogalusa is a town where people lay down roots that only burrow deeper with each generation. Families with
severely damaged or destroyed homes have moved in with relatives - living 17 to 20 people in a house - rather
than go to an emergency shelter, Taylor said.
Taylor says it's hard to say if there are any emerging signs of a return to normalcy.
"Folks are coping. At this point, we're coming up on the two-week mark. They know what has happened. They know
what their situation is. They know what their circumstances are. It's tough."
After two weeks in the chaos, Taylor is scheduled to return Monday to Bucks County. He's undecided about
whether he'll return. "I need time to think about it," he said.
Bucks County Courier Times
Held Behind Walls In Katrina's Wake, They Also Serve
Convicts at Bogalusa, La., Provide Hurricane Relief; Warden's Chainsaw Gang
By GARY FIELDS, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
September 14, 2005; Page A1
BOGALUSA, La. -- James Cox plunged his scarred, rough hands into the ice bucket to fish out two bottles of
Gatorade and handed them to Tammey Duncan. A resident of devastated Washington Parish, she was waiting in line
at the emergency-aid station in an industrial park here.
Mr. Cox, a prisoner for nearly 30 years, is serving time for armed robbery at the Washington Correctional
Institute. In the past two weeks, though, he has also been a first responder, one of dozens of inmates in orange
jumpsuits who have been driving forklifts, clearing debris and handing out food and water to people living here
near the Mississippi line.
As Louisiana digs out from Hurricane Katrina, convicts have been opening roads with axes and chainsaws and
doing other useful work. At Angola State Penitentiary, near Baton Rouge, inmates produced mattresses for
shelters. Some prisoners have even donated money from what little they are paid so evacuees can buy postage
"I've been a thug since 1966, and this feels good," said Mr. Cox, a brawny, tattooed 53-year-old. "When people
come up and you look into their faces and see all the sadness, and then they thank you like you are the one
giving this stuff to them, it makes you tear up."
Opened in 1983 to house 500 inmates, the Washington Correctional Institute now holds 1,200 men, most here
on drug charges, and it employs 418 people, making it one of the largest employers in the parish. Since Katrina
struck, this medium-security prison 70 miles north of New Orleans has sent scores of
inmates every day with corrections officers to work in the parish. The jobs don't pay well -- 20 cents an hour, at
best. But unlike the vast majority of he 43,900 people of this parish, the prisoners go back at day's end to hot
showers, warm meals and electric lighting.
All of the prisoners who have been helping are "trusties," men who are given special privileges -- like getting to
leave the prison grounds under supervision -- because of their exemplary disciplinary records.
The hurricane has resulted in neither riots nor escapes. Because the prison is surrounded by dense, forbidding
woods, running away isn't much of an option. Indeed, since Katrina hit, the Louisiana state prison system has
been relatively peaceful despite moving 8,000 inmates from prisons damaged by the hurricane to 13 different
In large part, that's because some of the prison authorities, such as Warden James Miller here at the
Washington Correctional Institute, were a lot better prepared for the hurricane than state and federal authorities
On Aug. 29, the morning Katrina's eye passed about 30 miles east of here, prisoners huddled in the dorms
watching the horizontal rain, listening as the gravel on the roof whipped off and shattered windshields a half-mile
away. Heating units were torn off the buildings. About that time, two 10-foot-high fences topped with razor wire
were breached by the storm.
While most inmates were locked in their cells, one crew of officers and trusties rushed to turn off a leaking main
gas line. Fifty others, standing in the rain and wind, raised and welded the downed fence that confines them.
As the storm began to subside, Warden Miller, who lives on the prison grounds, sent six crews of inmates and
corrections officers out. Their instructions were to clear one lane on all the main roads in the parish.
As the men made their way out among downed power lines and roads littered with fallen trees, a radio call came
in asking for help clearing the road to the emergency management center in Bogalusa. Another team from the
prison headed that way with their axes, hatchets and saws to cut and move the downed trees from the roadway.
Mr. Miller, 50 years old, had his own personal emergency management plan in place. He had backup generators
with a stockpile of fuel. The prison was already equipped with one of the largest food-storage facilities in the
parish. It was so well stocked there was no chance food would run out and the prison was able to help out the
school system, which had food in danger of spoiling.
The warden's biggest concern was gasoline to power the generators. As soon as the storm passed, Mr. Miller
pulled out the satellite phone he had reserved for such emergencies and called Richard Stalder, the state's
corrections chief, to arrange for additional fuel supplies. Mr. Miller has been able to give each of his workers 10
gallons of gas every two days so they can drive to work. Others, including a few officers, stayed over at a
makeshift shelter on the prison grounds. "This isn't the kind of place where you can just let everybody take off
work -- I've got to have them here," Mr. Miller said.
t has been hard for many inmates to grasp what has been happening outside the prison. About 85% of the
inmates here are from the New Orleans area, and they had no access to news reports until the warden
videotaped a newscast and played it on the prison's television system.
The TV rooms were silent as inmates crowded in. Darrell Johnson, 49, who has been here nine months for a
parole violation, was watching the screen when he saw his neighborhood, then recognized his street and family
home, all underwater. "I'm just hoping everybody got out safe," he said of his two brothers and two sisters. "You
can't call because of the phone situation here, and there's no sense in writing a letter. The mail ain't got nowhere
to go. I have no idea what shelter they went to or even what city they might be in."
Pausing while he moved pallets of baby formula, Keshawn Patterson, 27, said, "We can't help our families. At
least doing this, helping, it takes your mind off it for a while."
A challenge for the prison is finding the families of prisoners who are soon to be released. The institute has
already located the families of 180 prisoners and will continue to make calls and to use the Red Cross and other
means to try to find them. The state still needs to figure out how to keep track of inmates on parole or probation
should they leave Louisiana -- and to coordinate with other states.
Meanwhile, to keep operations here normal, Mr. Miller hasn't canceled regular visiting days. And letters will go
into the files of inmates who have helped out in the hurricane relief effort, intended to help the men when they
come up for parole.
Parish: Down, but not out
Recovery Effort well under way across parish
By GLORIA LUPO
The Daily News
September 21, 2005
"The thing about the situation after Hurricane Katrina is that it was much, much more than we could have imagined,"
said Washington Parish President M. E. "Toye" Taylor. "But with the help of our citizens and volunteers, we are
getting out of this. I thank the thousands who have helped for the wonderful work they have done."
"Because we lived through Camille in 1969, we thought we knew what to expect," Taylor continued. "But this is 36
years later. Technology has changed everything, and quick communication is something we take for granted. I never
thought communications would come before food, water and
oxygen and other medical supplies, but without the right communications lines open, it has become almost impossible
to meet other basic needs."
Starting with communicating the needs of the parish to the outside world and persons and agencies that could bring
help, the parish government has focused also on the need for fuel, medicine and health care, food, water and
supplemental law enforcement. With a huge area affected by the hurricane and the tremendously severe conditions
in areas to the south, Washington Parish survived on its own for a full week with parish and municipal governments,
citizens and businesses pulling together.
On August 29 when Katrina roared through, Taylor and all other emergency officials were stationed at the Parish
Office of Emergency Preparedness Complex, located just west of Bogalusa. The storm shut down communications at
the complex, but somehow phone lines remained open throughout it all to the Bogalusa mayor's office.
National Guardsmen at the mayor's office volunteered to take a plea for help to Baton Rouge and got it there by
midnight. With no answer from the state the next day, Taylor sent another envoy to the capitol.
On the third night, Taylor himself with other officials went to Baton Rouge and made a plea for help over radio station
WWL and also talked with officials at the State Office of Emergency Preparedness. Taylor continued making
addresses over WWL every night for the next six nights then returning each night to the parish. He said he had a
tremendous amount of help from State Sen. Ben Nevers.
After Taylor's first WWL address, help started pouring in, he said. Many truckloads of supplies from FEMA, which
could not reach the New Orleans area because of flooding, were diverted to north shore parishes. With the help of
the Livingston Parish sheriff and parish president, many of those
were directed to Washington Parish, Taylor said.
For 10 days, emergency efforts had to overcome the fact that phone calls could not be made across the parish.
Taylor said he spent most of that tenth day in St. Tammany Parish, trying to find a BellSouth executive who could tell
him what was happening with the phone lines and what the parish could expect. He said managed to speak with some
The phone company previously had told parish government that the situation would remain the same until fiber optic
rings could be repaired in the parish. But somehow phones started functioning in mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Sept.
"That changed the whole situation," Taylor said. "Now I can solve many problems in minutes, problems that would
have taken days or weeks to solve without quick communication."
Parish braces; looks ahead, cleanup ongoing
September 26, 2005
BY MARCELLE HANEMANN
The Daily News
"We're still under a State of Emergency," Washington Parish President Toye Taylor said Thursday. "And that has
ramifications on a lot of things. Communication is still unreliable. The fuel situation is shaky."
And Hurricane Rita was churning in the Gulf of Mexico as skies darkened and rain began to fall in the area.
Friday morning, Taylor said based on discussions at the "state command center," he thought Washington Parish
residents should expect three to five inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour as a "worst case
scenario" when Rita approaches the Texas/Louisiana coast.
"And it's going to impact us in so many ways," Taylor said. "Federal resources, power resources may be re-directed."
As breezes on the outer edge of Rita blew through what's left of the local trees, many residents continued the
struggle to get back to their feet after Hurricane Katrina.
Taylor said that, while he is generally not happy with the way things unfolded after Katrina, he is hopeful for the
future. "We have a great opportunity as a parish," said Taylor. "Some doors closed, but I think new ones will open.
Where I'm focused now is on the future of the parish. We need to have things put in place to protect the quality of
life, as we want it. We need to make decisions now."
He said he has met with representatives of the state department of agriculture and the department of economic
development. "We're thinking about where we need to be going, and then we'll put together a framework to build on,"
Meanwhile, the parish alcohol ban and the curfew have been lifted, the burn ban is still in effect and a clean-up
contract has been signed with IED, an Alabama-based company with local roots, he said.
The company was chosen because the owners retain a residence in Washington Parish and are expected to hire
local workers, said Taylor.
"We felt they would best ensure that locals would not only get the work, but that they would be fairly compensated,"
The contract includes the parish and all its municipalities except Franklinton, where the company is already at work,
said Taylor. He said IED should begin picking up debris throughout the parish by early next week.
Jackman sends lumber, cash to Bogalusa schools
Thursday, October 6, 2005
by LARRY GRARD, Staff Writer
Copyright C 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
JACKMAN -- The "Magic City" of Bogalusa, La., took Hurricane Katrina's hardest punch on Aug. 29.
While flooding was the major problem in New Orleans, wind damage was the issue in the city of 20,000 in
southeast Louisiana, not far from the Mississippi border. Katrina's greatest sustained winds of 175 mph pulled the
roofs off all five operating city schools. Hundreds of windows were blown out, and electrical equipment was
Only on Monday -- 35 days into the worst humanitarian crisis seen in this country since the Great Depression -- did
students return to classes.
Jerry O. Payne, superintendent of Bogalusa City Schools, has requested a consolidated community effort for the
materials needed to rebuild the schools. Paint, sheet-rock, mud compound, tape and nails are right on top on
But all those materials won't help much without lumber. And that's where the lumber capital of the Northeast is
coming to the rescue.
A parade following behind him, Richard Burns hauled out of Jackman at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday with $20,000 worth of
lumber. Some 1,673 miles later, Burns is expected to drive the Richard Carrier tractor-trailer into Bogalusa on
Bogalusa will welcome Burns with arms wide open.
"We are extremely blessed and thankful that Jackman, Maine has been willing and able to partner with us, since we
were devastated by Hurricane Katrina," Payne said Monday. "We are elated. At each of our schools we had
considerable damage with winds at 175 mph. We are thankful to any and all who have reached out."
The Jackman effort, coordinated by Four Seasons Restaurant owner Alan DuPlessis, resulted from a remarkable
collaboration of area businesses.
Plum Creek Timber Co. donated the trees, and Richard Griffin of Jackman Lumber cut and hauled them to Moose
River Lumber Co. Inc. There, the trees were sawed, planed and kiln-dried. Richard Carrier and E.J. Carrier logging
split the transportation cost.
Television cameras were present as a parade of fire trucks, ambulances and border patrol left Forest Hills School
followed the Richard Carrier truck onto U.S. Route 201.
In addition, Forest Hills students will send to Bogalusa $3,000 that they raised through fund-raising efforts.
"For a community of this size, everybody has to be a part of it, and indeed everybody was a part of it," Duplessis
said. "I've always liked Margaret Meade's quote that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the
By the time Burns rolls into Bogalusa, DuPlessis already will be there. He, Plum Creek worker Clarence Begin and
Forest Hills student Michael Paradise will be staying there a week to help pound the lumber into place, wherever
it is needed most.
Begin is also chairman of the School Administrative District 12 Board of Directors. Paradise will film the enterprise,
for use in a documentary.
"We're going to work," DuPlessis said. "I packed all our work clothes. Our interest is to get them a school built.
We're going to work six days."
The Jackman-Bogalusa connection emanated from a Rural Community Trust conference in July at Sugarloaf USA.
There, members of the Jackman Historical Society became acquainted with a contingent from Jackson, La.
After Katrina made its rampage through the Gulf Coast, Jackman historians contacted people in Jackson, asking if
they needed help. The word was, Jackson incurred some damage. But more than anyplace, Bogalusa needed help.
DuPlessis contacted Plum Creek's Mark Doty, and the rest is history.
Students at Forest Hills, a kindergarten-through-12 school, canvassed the town with jars and stood in front of
supermarkets for the donations. The money originally was intended to pay for transportation, but the Carrier
businesses will take care of that.
"The generosity of our rural communities has been uplifting," said Superintendent Richard Curtis. "Sometimes it
takes a hurricane or other disaster to help bring the people of a community together, and that is what's happening
in Jackman, Maine."
Marcelle Hanemann, a reporter with the Bogalusa Daily News, said Tuesday that the destruction caused by Katrina
remains everywhere to be seen.
"They said it knocked down 65 percent of the trees, and it seems like all of them," Hanemann said. "It was
devastating here. Tarps are up on the schools. They're certainly far from normal."
Jackman's effort is the model, Hanemann said. "It's remarkable the spirit I am seeing," she said. "People all across
the country are coming to give. It brings tears to your eyes."
Temple-Inland Donation Helps City Stay Afloat
By Marcelle Hanemann
The Daily News
October 12, 2005
The doors to Bogalusa City Hall remained open Friday, although the $300,000 requested from the federal
government did not arrive. Temple-Inland saved the day with a donation in the same amount.
Mayor Mack McGehee said Monday that he would be forced to lock the doors and send city employees home at
lunchtime Friday if the federal funding, requested almost a month ago, did not arrive. Without the funding, the city
could not afford to pay either overtime prompted by Hurricane Katrina or contractors helping with the recovery, he
The $300,000 check that did arrive was not from the government, but from a major local business, Temple Inland.
The company also donated $100,000 to the Town of Franklinton, $200,000 to Washington Parish and made
numerous additional in-kind and other contributions to the community. The relief contributions were actually made in
Bogalusa is home to Temple Inland's largest paper mill and one of the largest box plants in the company's system.
TI Chairman and CEO Kenneth Jastrow III said the "tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is unbelievable and has
"The people of Bogalusa have responded courageously," he said. "Already, progress is being made. Throughout
Temple Inland, we are working to provide whatever help we can to make the forward journey as easy as possible."
McGehee praised the company for its support, and said that the donation would enable the city to continue
operations for a week or so. Director of Administration Jerry Bailey said that he hopes some back-up money will arrive
"We should receive quarterly franchize payments from the utility companies," he said. "And the sales taxes..., but they
are from the month of September, so they dropped. I hope, within the week, we'll get the money we asked for from
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)."
Temple Inland relief efforts also include direct employee assistance in the amount of $500 cash per Bogalusa
employee, a total of $350,000 and the continuation of pay to Bogalusa employees throughout the shutdown period.
The Temple Inland Foundation will match, three to one up to $1,000, all employee contributions to eligible relief
In-kind donations to the community include the following: one truckload of water, two truckloads of tarpaulins, two
truckloads of timber and two truckloads of diesel gasoline to keep city, parish and contractor crews and emergency
vehicles running during the first week after the storm.
TI employees assisted in providing power to the community and getting the water system back up. The company
provided outside service to test the city water supply, provided a generator for parish government offices, loaned
full-time employees to work with the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) and cleared debris from roadways.
The day after the hurricane hit, it procured propane needed to keep the generator running in a local nursing home.
And it provided a crane and manpower to remove trees from homes.
Temple Inland donated a satellite telephone to the city of Bogalusa, trucks to transport goods from the Salvation Army
in Baton Rouge to Bogalusa and heavy equipment to the National Guard.
TI employees coordinated supply and logistics at the main parish distribution site and assisted emergency
management at the parish OEP.
The company also set up a warehouse as a receiving and distribution center for such items as food, clothing, ice and
water in the eastern half of the parish. And the mill provided equipment and manpower to operate the center for the
first 10 days.
While the local company and others worked quickly to address post Katrina needs, as of press time, the U.S.
Congress was considering a bill that would provide emergency assistance to enable local governments affected by
Hurricane Katrina to pay employees over the next two months.
Good Samaritans from Mattoon make history in Bogalusa
Published on Monday, October 31, 2005 10:04 AM CST
Journal Gazette and Times-Courier
By Bill Lair, Managing Editor
MATTOON -- While major cities like New Orleans and Biloxi got most of the attention when Hurricane Katrina struck
the Gulf Coast in September, other communities also needed help.
Bogalusa, La., also suffered major damage and was out of the relief spotlight until two couples from Mattoon
brought some help.
Sister Amelia Ibarra, principal of Annunciation Catholic School in Bogalusa,said Gerald and Ginger Lindley and
Barclay and Blanche Mills of Mattoon brought supplies and hope to the people of Bogalusa.
"They went down in history at our school," Sister Amelia said in a recent telephone call. "They brought a lot of
The Lindleys and Mills set up a collecting point at the Osco parking lot in Mattoon shortly after Katrina hit in
Louisiana. The Lindleys' daughter, Deanna Lapeyrouse, and her husband live in Mandeville, La., near Bogalusa.
Mrs. Mills said the credit goes to local residents who contributed items and cash to the relief effort. The two
couples took truckloads of water, food, diapers, baby food, medical supplies, toys and other items with much of it
ending up at Annunciation School.
"The generosity of the American people is fabulous," Sister Amelia said. "I just want to say to everyone, we truly
appreciate it. This is a long overdue 'God Bless all of you.'"
Blanche Mills said the two couples first took donated items to Mandeville to help the Lapeyrouses, who own a
candy factory there. Most of their employees lost everything, Mrs. Mills said.
The employees took some of the donated items and then the couples contacted the Red Cross, who eventually
sent them to Bogalusa. "They hadn't had much help yet," Mrs. Mills said. "They wanted to get a relief center
started at the school. They were almost in tears. They were thrilled."
Inmates from a local prison helped unload the supplies. "We called them the 'Organized Team,'" Sister Amelia said
of the Lindleys and Mills. "They are retired teachers and they knew what they were doing. We set up a store and
kept inviting people from the community to come in. Parents never dreamed they would have these kinds of
supplies. It was very touching."
Mrs. Mills said Hurricane Katrina spun off several tornadoes which went through the Bogalusa area.
"Our city is in a timber section of Louisiana," Sister Amelia said. "We have lost thousands of trees. I think about 70
percent of our homes had trees in them and 30 percent are not livable."
While Bogalusa residents try to rebuild, they want the people of the Mattoon area to know that their contributions
"The people in Mattoon were just wonderful," Mrs. Mills said. "One woman said her granddaughter outgrew some
toddler clothes and she would bring them. She came back with the little girl and the girl said, 'Would you take
this teddy bear and give it to one of the kids?'"
In addition to supplies, people also gave more than $3,000 in cash to the Lindleys and Mills to take with them.
They gave some money to the nuns at Annunciation and some to the Lapeyrouses' employees. Then at one of the
few restaurants open, a waitress was telling the couples of her losses and how she needed to be at work to make
"So we gave her a hundred dollars and she just cried and cried and cried," Mrs. Mills said. "She said it was the first
nice thing that had happened to her since the storm hit."
Annunciation School was closed for four weeks before reopening. Sister Amelia says returning to school has
brought some normalcy. But she knows Thanksgiving and Christmas may be tough.
"Things are getting better but we will never forget all those who helped us," Sister Amelia said. "So many people
showed love and concern. Despite the problems, Hurricane Katrina brought people together."
A Load of Lumber-and More
Rural Policy Matters
Practically the entire community of Jackman, Maine (population 718) turned out at the local school to cheer, sing, and
accompany a semi tractor trailer load of lumber out of town in a parade of joy and celebration. For Jackman, located
in Maine's Moosehead Lake region at the heart of the northern forest wood products industry, a load of lumber is
usually hardly worth shouting about.
But this load was special. It was logged, milled, and shipped as a rural-to-rural aid project to Katrina-wasted Bogalusa
City, Louisiana by local businesses rallied to the cause by students in Forest Hills Consolidated School. The school
established a kinship with Louisiana schools through their place-based learning work with the Rural School and
Bogalusa City (which, of course, is not a city, but a small town) was dead in the path of Katrina, and the schools took
a lot of damage. Many desks and furnishings were destroyed and the roofs on all five school buildings and the central
office were badly damaged. Teacher and student supplies were blown away or drenched, computers wiped out, and
$140,000 worth of textbooks ruined. The district schools were closed for a month, reopening only on October 3 under
So the load of lumber was a welcome gift, and there was a celebration in Bogalusa City when the truck arrived. Rural
Trust staff member Daisy Slan, who lives in nearby East Baton Rouge Parish, reports that there were a lot of tears of
joy and appreciation, not just for the load of lumber, but "to know someone so far away would care so much about us."
The trees, logging, milling, and trucking were all donated by Jackman area businesses, and the Forest Hills students
raised money to pay for truck fuel and other travel expenses. They are making a film that will document the project's
progress, from standing trees in Maine to school roof repair in Louisiana.
Jackman businessman Allen DuPlessis, a leader in the effort, and several others from Jackman, including student
Michael Paradise and school board chair Clarence Begin, spent a week in Bogalusa volunteering and documenting.
DuPlessis indicates the relationship between the schools and communities is just beginning. Donations in excess of
the cost of shipping the lumber will be donated to the Bogalusa schools for the purchase of supplies, textbooks, and
other materials lost in the hurricane. Jackman students also hope to have some Bogalusa kids visit Maine for summer
and winter activities.
Bogalusa superintendent Jerry Payne said, "The greatest part about this is that such a small community was
determined they wanted to do something significant." He says they did. Besides the lumber, "they gave us a hearty,
warm, expression of love," he said.
Some people would call Jackman "isolated." It's 50 miles to a hospital and over 100 to a commercial airport. But it can
reach out and touch neighbors in Louisiana. Rural communities helping rural communities.