‘Louisiana Spirit’ shines on local first responders

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008

Recovery groups honor police officers, firemen, EMTS, who have seen incresased workload since Katrina


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The months continue to pile up, but people like Henry Harris of the hurricane recovery group Louisiana Spirit, know all too well how much work is left to be done.

“Even though it has been 29 months since Hurricane Katrina hit, there is still so much work left. It will be years to finish our recovery process,” Harris said before a group of emergency responders at the KC Hall this past Tuesday.

Harris was among many with Louisiana Spirit, and Options for Independence, who teamed up that day to put on a “thank you” luncheon for any Region 3 first responders who continue to do the extra work needed in the ongoing recovery process.

“What we are doing today is all for those who helped with the Katrina recovery, and those who continue to help today,” he said. “This storm is considered the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, and yet we have seen from what happened that we have so many dynamic people who are willing to help.”

Louisiana Spirit is a federally funded state organization that directs funding throughout smaller regional groups, all crisis assistance and counseling for those affected by the storm. The funding for the group will end in December of this year.

Options for Independence is a Houma organization which is one of the Region 3 groups working to help people in St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Assumption, LaFourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary parishes.

“The first responders are the ones who, from the beginning of Katrina, have done so much extra for people,” Options Director Barry Chauvin said. “They had to put in more hours, and they have had to handle the increased crime, shootings and battery against police officers since the storm. The statistics back up increases in those areas.”

St. John Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Nolan Anderson agreed, noting “since Katrina we had a lot of new people move to this area. We have more traffic to deal with, and we have all put in longer hours since the storm. So it’s nice to have this put on today to say thanks to us.”

On hand were police officers, firemen, EMT’s and any other workers in the first responder category.

“People don’t realize the added stress there is for all of these who serve in this capacity as first responders,” Chauvin added. “They really need counseling and help as much as anyone else. But things are getting better and for that, we’re all thankful.”