DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - As people in south Louisiana continue to rebuild after the August 2016 flood, one Livingston Parish mayor says though it was a tragic event, it has taught him some valuable lessons that he will use to help him make history in his city.
Denham Springs was one of the hardest hit areas in one of the hardest hit parishes in the state. It's why folks who live there would probably like to forget the devastating flood. Nearly 14 months later, Landry says he thinks about it almost everyday. He studies the disaster and tries to use what happened then to plan for what may lie ahead.
"Unfortunately, sometimes you have to go through a catastrophic event like we did 14 months ago to realize how bad you need it," said Landry.
He and other city leaders are in the very early stages of developing an emergency plan, which will be the first ever for the Livingston Parish city. It's an effort to answer a simple, yet tough question.
"You have to ask yourself, 'What are you going to do if this happens tomorrow?' and, 'How are you going to react,'" said Landry. "These are the things that municipalities have to sort of prepare for."
The goal is to create a step-by-step guide or skeleton of what to do and what to have in place to ensure that during a disaster the city keeps going.
"One of the biggest things that I've learned is that you need to make sure that the city leaders, the council, and all of the department heads remain calm and do their jobs," Landry added.
The plan will not just be for flooding. As active shooter scenarios continue to play out across the country, like just this week in Las Vegas, or closer to home two years ago in Lafayette, Landry says they are working to get input from police and fire personnel just in case a similar situation happens in Denham Springs.
"An event like we saw in Las Vegas, it could happen here in Denham Springs. It could happen at any facility where there's a large gathering of folks," said Landry.
The mayor plans to tie all of these ideas into one plan. The city is in the process of applying for a $20,000 gr ant from State Farm. If approved, the goal is to improve the city's website and launch an emergency preparedness app. It's a bold move the mayor says is worth it in case of the next event.
"If I don't do what I'm supposed to do for the future, to make sure that our citizens are better prepared, then I've failed," he added.
Other area mayors also did not have emergency plans in place prior to the flood. Landry says he hopes they will now join him in making it a priority.