To the citizens of Donaldsonville:
The month of September will surely be one to remember for many years to come. The effects of Hurricane Gustav were felt throughout Ascension Parish, but there is no doubt in my mind that those of us in Donaldsonville felt the worst of a storm that has been compared to Rita, Katrina, and Betsy. Homes were damaged, businesses were damaged, and trees were uprooted, streets flooded, and the day-to-day routine of our normal lives was shaken from its very foundation. Once the storm passed, it was time for the City of Donaldsonville and the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District to swing into action, working diligently to return our beloved community to a state of normalcy.
I would like to first commend Mayor Sullivan and the City Council for their actions before, during, and after the storm. While most in the community were not able to physically see what was going on, I was at the meetings and saw the steps taken to prepare the city for the worst, and then to begin the recovery efforts as we were faced with an entire community left without power and with damaged properties. Mayor Sullivan, the City Council, representatives from the Parish, Sheriff's Office, Fire department, myself, and Entergy met daily to discuss the current situations and brief each other on what was taking place throughout the community. Outside of those meetings, all of us could be seen rushing from one location to another--delivering ice and water to the elderly and those without vehicles within the community, assessing property damages, checking in on business owners to see if there was anything they needed, distributing MRE's, water, ice, hot meals, and tarps at the Lemann Center and Dream Center, etc etc. For the majority of those involved in the recovery efforts, our days began
before 6am, and ended well past dark as we returned to our own power-less homes for a few hours of sleep.
Are there things that should be improved in the event of another storm such as this? Absolutely--there will always be things that one cannot plan on. Many mornings we were at the mercy of the supplies that arrived on the truck. One day there wasn't enough ice, the next day tarps, and the next day water. As the days progressed though, the efficiency of our handout locations, and the amount of volunteers willing and able to distribute supplies, increased. It is important to note that while there were some issues to be resolved, there were also many positive things accomplished, which had they not been done would have resulted in much more severe damage within the community.
As we work to bring the City of Donaldsonville back to how it was
Pre-Gustav, please know that both the City of Donaldsonville and the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District is committed to the betterment of our community, and the care and well-being of its residents and business owners. If there is anything that we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact us. In closing, I would like to extend my sincere and deepest condolences to the family of City Manager Lincoln Moore. For those of you who may not know, Lincoln was the city's only fatality during the storm, suffering a stroke while working to clear debris from one of our many clogged and flooding streets.
Though his time with the city was short, Lincoln undertook many projects, and all should remember his legacy. If there was one thing about Lincoln that I will always remember, it's that he led by example-if something needed to be done, and he knew how to do it, he would be the first person out there working to get it done. Whether it was writing grants, driving a backhoe, cleaning up after an event---anything. That's a lesson I believe we can all take to heart.
Executive Director, Donaldsonville Downtown Development District Manager, Main Street Donaldsonville Program