‘I was taught to be kind to people and lend a hand if you see a need.’
While St. Charles Parish ultimately was fortunate to escape the path of Hurricane Nate earlier this month, at least one Boutte man took the opportunity to step up as a Good Samaritan during storm preparation.
Jeffrey Dufrene was at the beginning of a few days off from his job as an operator at Kinder Morgan when St. Charles Parish braced for a potential onslaught of storm weather, and he didn’t let his free time go to waste as his friends
“I saw where on Facebook the parish had posted about sandbag locations if anyone needed them,” Dufrene said. “I thought about it and told my wife that I was going to head out and fill some sandbags for the elderly and disabled.”
He headed over to the West Bank Bridge Park and got to work at 8 a.m. Oct. 7, the day Nate was scheduled to make landfall. It turned into quite the productive outing: by the time he was through at 3 p.m., he had filled approximately 300 sandbags.
“There were a lot of elderly people out there with their shovels, ready to fill bags,” Dufrene said. “I just wanted to help them out. I like to help people out when I can.”He hesitated when asked what inspired him to make the sandbags, saying he didn’t “feel like it’s a big deal,” but when pressed, offered, “I guess it’s just how I was raised.”
“I was taught to be kind to people and to lend a helping hand if you see a need,” Dufrene said. “A lot of people were thankful … some offered me money, but I refused it. That’s not why I was out there.”
One couple showed up with a wheelchair and a walker in the back of their SUV, at first ready to fill their bags — and then ready to pitch in.
“It was an older couple, and he has his shovel out ready to fill the bag. ‘Absolutely not, man,’” Dufrene said. “Then when I was finished, he offered to help me refill all the bags I just gave him. ‘Naw, man, but I appreciate it.’”St. Charles Parish spokesman Tristan Babin said Dufrene’s efforts did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
“I saw several elderly residents taking the bags and thanking him. That he would do this for these people, who I don’t think would have been able to do it for themselves, is incredibly thoughtful,” Babin said. “During our hurricane preparedness campaign earlier this year, our EOC Director mentioned several times that we should all have plans for the people in our lives who may be unable to take care of themselves in a storm.
“I think what Mr. Dufrene was doing goes along with that very same message: prepare for yourself and if you can, help others do the same.”
As it ended up, Nate turned far enough west to leave St. Charles with little more than a few harmless showers —thankfully, as residents surely felt.
Nonetheless, Dufrene was there for his neighbors.
“I think it almost created more work for them to get rid of the bags, when you think about it,” Dufrene joked. “There wasn’t much damage, luckily for us. But it’s better to be safe, always.”