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Reaching out through the floodwaters

Once again, Louisiana’s hit with severe flooding, this time to the areas near our Baton Rouge office. Long before the floodwaters recede, before claims for assistance can be filed, and before daily life can begin to return to normal, folks like Tommy Davidson reach out to their communities to offer a helping hand.

Since the flooding, Tommy, a construction manager based in Baton Rouge, has been out searching for people and animals that need to be rescued, trawling through the surreal scenes that are his community now, usually getting home at between 2 and 3 in the morning. Early on, his 15-year-old-daughter Colesie rode along with him, piloting at times when she wasn’t quite strong enough to help lift the rescued into the family boat.

When commended by a coworker for his selflessness, Tommy replied simply, “You gotta do it.” He related a story about rescuing a man, his wife, and their dog at 2 a.m. one morning, and how thankful the man was for the help. Tommy’s response? “If I was in your situation, I’d want to know that someone was coming to get me.” Those are the victories.

Then there are the grim reminders of our mortality. Tommy has a picture of a casket floating in the floodwaters, not an uncommon sight in situations like these when water pressure forces them from the ground. When asked why he had taken the picture, he said, “Man, that’s real life. That’s what we’re dealing with here.”

In the midst of all of this upheaval, it’s heartwarming to hear stories like Tommy’s and to know that people are so generous, helpful, and selfless. But it’s also lucky for us that when he’s finished slogging around in high water for the day his thoughts turn to Atkins, two projects that await notice to proceed, and how to staff them—quickly—to stimulate relief efforts for the common good.

The Atkins Foundation has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross, who has deemed the flooding in Louisiana the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Atkins has been a member of the Baton Rouge community since 2014.)

The Red Cross predicts that at least $30 million is needed for the relief effort in Louisiana and estimates as many as 110,000 homes have been affected, displacing countless people.