Luling man’s efforts to feed linemen just one example of community’s resilience

Americo Sheppard and Craig Castille take a moment while preparing food for linemen who were working locally to restore power following Hurricane Ida.

Ida cost many St. Charles Parish residents their homes. If not that, they went without power, internet, water and readily available food for an extended time, and in many cases their belongings were destroyed Schools were closed. Insurance battles are ongoing.

Ida cost local residents plenty – but, as many have told it since that late August day, it hasn’t cost them their sense of a tight knit, caring community.

AJ Sheppard is one who says that means something special to him. The Luling man was one of so many who endured a prolonged post-Ida power outage, and he’s thankful to have that electricity back, thanks to the hard work of linemen who poured into the community to try and set things right as quickly as possible.

Seeing them in action inspired him to take some action of his own. And so Sheppard, day after day, cooked meals for the workers (as well as his neighbors), as a way of saying “thank you,” as well as reciprocating in a way what was being done for he and his community.

“You know, these people are down here working to get our lives back to normal, so I wanted to do what I could to keep their lives as normal as could be,” said Sheppard, an alum of Hahnville High. “Right after the storm, a good meal could be hard to come by.”

Some days pastalaya was on the menu. Others, burgers, crawfish boudin, shrimp gumbo … for out of town workers, they were served the true local, Louisiana experience, even if so, much surrounding that true experience was in upheaval. In the end, Sheppard was able to feed hundreds of people.

“I worked offshore at one point, so I know how it is to be away from your home for a while … it’s not the same circumstances, of course,” Sheppard said. “These guys were here helping us.

“So, anything I could do to make someone’s day … it wasn’t anything crazy, it just served its purpose. I’m not the only one, by any means. So many people jumped in to help, whether it was cooking for the linemen or so much other stuff that doesn’t get the attention.”

Sheppard was one of many who made it his objective to make life just a bit better for the people around him during local hurricane recovery efforts. Numerous names were highlighted on social media recently from grateful residents recognizing those efforts. Among them were others who cooked meals for their community, like Catina Raymond, Ursula Ingram, Joel Hymel. Jeffrey Dufrene, Brandon Langley and Melanie and Sean Fontenot.

Ralph Richoux tarped roofs, cut trees and shared his supply of gas for generators. And sometimes, even just a few positive words could brighten a day, as St. Charles Parish Deputy Christopher Baird was noted for his daily Facebook messages of encouragement to brighten the days of his friends and neighbors. And these were just a few examples of many, many more.

One afternoon, a lineman to whom Sheppard brought a meal offered some words that made his work feel more than worthwhile – and speaks as further testimony to the community’s heart and resilience. Sheppard asked how he was doing and alluded to some of the impatience the lineman may have encountered from people anxious to return to normal.

“He said, ‘yeah, you run into those kinds of people here and there, but I’ll say this – this is the best I’ve been treated in all the places I’ve been,’” said Sheppard. “And that kind of stood out to me … kind of a reminder of the type of people we’ve got around here and what makes it a great community.”

 

About Ryan Arena 2415 Articles
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