Parish News

Sandbag storage units worked

09/08/2017

What seemed like a good idea in the beginning has now been tested in real time and may have proved to be an important tool in Bossier Parish’s emergency preparedness plans, especially if the area is hit by floods similar to those in 2009, 2015 and 2016.

When it looked like northwest Louisiana was in for a direct hit from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey, Bossier Parish residents began making preparations for heavy rains and the high water that usually accompany such a storm.

One of the first lines of defense for residents, especially those in flood-prone areas, is sandbags. This time, residents from Elm Grove in the south to Plain Dealing up north didn’t have to make the long drive to Benton to pick up their bags at the police jury’s maintenance facility.

Six storage bins had been placed in five locations, including four placed miles away from the maintenance department. Each bin had been stocked with about 3,500 sandbags and homeowners took advantage of the convenient locations.

“We opened the storage unit the day we had our first weather briefing and there was a pretty steady flow of people picking up sandbags,” said Fire Chief Robert Rowe of Fire District 1 on Hwy. 80 East in Haughton. “The people probably picked up around 1,500 sandbags.”

Give or take a few, that number was pretty much the average at other sites: the south Bossier Fire Dist. 2 station on Robertson Rd. near Elm Grove, on McKinley Ave. in Haughton and on W. Palmetto in Plain Dealing. Doors to the units were unlocked and people helped themselves.

Storage bins for sandbags placed strategically throughout the parish was an idea Parish Administrator Bill Altimus brought back from a statewide administrator’s meeting last year. Altimus was convinced it was something worth trying.

“The person who talked about the storage bins said the sandbags that had been inside these large containers were still in great shape even though they had been stored for a long time,” Altimus said. “The bags were still dry and ready for use.”

Police jury members agreed the idea was worth the investment and six units were purchased, repainted, customized for storing sandbags and delivered to the five sites.

“This makes it so much easier and quicker for people to get the sandbags they need,” Altimus said. “They can load up and be back to their destination with the bags, sometimes in less time that it would take to drive to Benton.”

Storage bins have already been refilled and are ready in case of emergency.

“After the flooding we’ve experienced in the parish on three different occasions, we want to be prepared. We’ve learned from our experiences and we want to be ready to help our citizens any way we can when there’s an emergency,” Altimus said.


About one-third of the sandbags originally loaded at Fire Dist. 1 on East 80 remained after residents prepared for potential heavy rains and high water from Harvey.

 

Sandbags are run up a conveyor belt to a police jury dump truck that will deliver replacement bags from the maintenance center to four satellite locations in the parish.

 

Inmates from Bossier Parish's correctional center refill a storage unit on Robertson Rd. near Elm Grove. Residents in the area picked up approximately 1,800 sandbags.

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