August 20, a meeting of Red River Parish elected officials, school personnel, parish personnel and GOHSEP, town officials, and State Senate convened to discuss the emergency created by the lack of water/water pressure and boil advisory in the Town of Coushatta. At this meeting 19 people discussed how to secure help for the school system, hospital, and businesses.
To start the meeting Shane Hubbard began discussing what he knew about the problems that have plagued the town water system for months. He addressed that the mayor, town water engineer, nor the town water coordinator would be attending the meeting.
Superintendent Strong relayed the information that Mayor, Dr. Johnny Cox, had given her. She said, “the town is now running on one pump. There is a large leak that no one has found. Tomorrow they will be trying to locate this leak.” The leaks and the problems can be traced back to more than just water pipe woes, we are dealing with breakages due to heat and an emergency due to heat issues. “Unfortunately, the low pressure will not allow restroom facilities to work properly at our schools. We will have to close tomorrow.”
As the meeting was starting, two calls of fire were heard over the radios. One fire was in the area of the town water system. One fire was out of town. Both these fires accentuated the need for immediate action. For fires in the town, the fire department must pull water from the river or from surrounding water systems.
“What if this last pump fails?” “What is the plan?” These questions filled the room. Many discussions erupted. Hubbard agreed that GOHSEP would aid the town and residents of the town water system with a request from officials for help. He discussed the availability of portable toilet trailers that could assist schools in re-opening as soon as possible. He also offered potable water for schools, hospitals, and emergency needs. There is also a need for help in finding the leak. Through the Louisiana Rural Water Association, a team can lend aid in finding the leaks and helping to get the pumps back working.
One police jury member stated that communication and cooperation is the key. “If we don’t know how to help, we can’t request help.” The reaction in the room was to make a plan no matter what. As the meeting ended, parish and town officials were working with Senator Bernard and GOHSEP officials to bring in help for citizens.