Christopher Baird, a St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, created the Facebook page “St. Charles Parish STRONG” during the pandemic. The page took on a new purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
“A lot of people had evacuated and they were unsure about the extent of the damage of their homes or what the progress was with cleanup,” he said. “They were also curious about business closures and re-openings and a lot of posts were geared around general information of the state of the parish after the storm.”
Baird started updating the page twice daily with parish progress reports, and eventually started adding inspirational messages and quotes to his posts. The community’s response was overwhelming.
“The responses I was getting were from people telling me how I brightened their day with the positivity,” Baird said. “It really is an amazing feeling to be able to interact with the community outside of my profession. To be able to help them – whether it’s in person or just mentally or just bring a smile to them – is so rewarding.”
Baird has been a police officer for 17 years, with most of that time spent in St. Charles Parish.
“There are still a lot of people out there struggling from the storm … my parents are some of them,” he said. “They’re still living in an RV waiting for their contractors to be finished. I feel like the storm has heightened fear, but I also feel like it brought the community together as well. I see a lot more pope willing to help their neighbor out.”
Baird, a Marine Corps veteran, said he is proud to serve St. Charles Parish in whatever capacity he can. He said he is often stopped by people in the community who see his name tag and recognize him as the deputy who makes the Facebook posts.
“I love interacting with my community and seeing people I know and meeting new people,” he said. “I love bringing people together.”