First Responders

After the Storm: Louisiana State Police Keep the Peace

September 1, 2021Noelle Wiehe
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana State troopers clear roadways by sawing apart downed trees Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.  Photo courtesy of the Louisiana State Police.

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana State troopers clear roadways by sawing apart downed trees Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Louisiana State Police.

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. — It’s nearly evening on a sweltering Tuesday in Livingston Parish.

Louisiana State Police Trooper 1st Class Taylor Scrantz is talking about a tree splintered Sunday, Aug. 29, by Hurricane Ida. 

Although a chainsaw hacked away part of the trunk, its limbs still jut into the highway, tangled in power lines.

“Twenty-five vehicles hit that tree last night,” Scrantz, a member of Troop A, said.

An evening curfew helps to protect motorists who’d rather try to navigate through hurricane damage in the dark, he said. 

Most deaths and injuries don’t happen when a cyclone rages, he continued. “It’s after the storm.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, downed trees block roads across Livingston Parish. Photo by Noelle Wiehe/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The most powerful hurricane to hit the Pelican State in a half-century, Ida killed four people here and in neighboring Mississippi.

Troop A’s area of responsibility orbits Baton Rouge, which was mostly spared Ida’s wrath. Storm damage intensifies southeast of the state capital, both here and in Ascension Parish.

And the devastation gets worse the farther south a trooper drives toward the Gulf of Mexico: no power, no 911 emergency dispatch, no cell towers, no drinking water.

Louisiana State Police troopers discuss with a driver his decision to peel out of a Livingston Parish Burger King Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Noelle Wiehe/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Augmented by Arkansas troopers and New York Police Department Emergency Search and Rescue crews, Troop A’s personnel are working double shifts to save lives and protect property.

“People know that live here, that their Louisiana State Police, when we go through these natural disasters, we’re always there before the storm, we’re always there during the storm, and we’re always there after the storm,” Scrantz said. “The main mission and goal right now is to get life back to normal for our citizens. Some people just make it more difficult than others.”

People like the driver who just peeled out of the nearby Burger King, burning rubber, angry because they didn’t have enough food for him and his mom.

In Ida’s wake, the nearby Walmart closes at 4 p.m. Most fast-food restaurants seem to run out of meals an hour later.

“When tempers get high, that’s kind of a bigger issue,” Senior Trooper James McGehee, a veteran of the Marine Corps, said.

Floodwaters lap at an eastbound stretch of US Highway 90 in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Noelle Wiehe/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Authorities warn impatient motorists not to drive their automobiles onto flooded roadways.

Homeowners should monitor for carbon monoxide caused by electricity generators. Dispatchers on the nonemergency 211 line can direct others to emergency shelters.

“A lot of the calls are the same,” Scrantz added. “Trees in the roadway, power lines in the roadway, people running out of gas, and vehicle crashes are our four main calls right now.” 

McGehee said stations let customers fill up one vehicle and an extra gas can for each visit to the pump, but people still chance a trip onward when the fuel needle hovers near empty.

Scrantz estimated there would be two-hour waits for stranded motorists who called for help.

“We probably have 20-25 vehicles on I-10 between New Orleans and Baton Rouge with no gas,” he said.

Read Next: 1 Rescued From Crashed Seahawk off San Diego Coast, 5 Missing

Noelle Wiehe
Noelle Wiehe

Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
Coffee Or Die Photo
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
military pilots cancer rates
Higher Cancer Rates Found in Military Pilots, Ground Crews

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft b...

March 20, 2023Associated Press
whiskey pour
Veterans Lead the Way Among America’s Growing Craft Distilleries

American veterans are taking the lessons they learned in the military and changing the craft distilling industry.

March 20, 2023Mac Caltrider
military suicide veteran suicide
Military Moves To Cut Suicides, But Defers Action on Guns

In a memo released Thursday, Austin called for the establishment of a suicide prevention working gro...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
us military drills japan-south korea
US, Partners Stage Military Drills Amid Japan-South Korea Talks

The Sea Dragon 23 exercises that started on Wednesday will culminate in more than 270 hours of in-fl...

March 17, 2023Associated Press
leo jenkins a word like god
‘A Word Like God’: New Book From Army Ranger Leo Jenkins

In his latest poetry collection, Ranger-turned-writer Leo Jenkins turns away from war to explore cosmic themes of faith, fatherhood, and art.

March 16, 2023Mac Caltrider
us drone
Pentagon Video Shows Russian Jet Dumping Fuel on US Drone

The Pentagon on Thursday released video of what it said was a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a ...

March 16, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved