We have had more than our fair share of natural disasters over the past month and a half, beginning with the tornado in the Broadmoor neighborhood on Wednesday, May 8, and the flooding that the area is currently dealing with along the Arkansas River.
Both disasters have taken a lot of time and effort from Mayor Shirley Washington and the City of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson and his staff, Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Chief Kelvin Sergeant and the Pine Bluff Police Department, Karen Blevins and the staff at the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management, the Pine Bluff City Council, the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, along with a host of others.
The job local officials have done to patch up questionable areas along the levee on Port Road and in areas of Island Harbor should be commended. Residents, and even our staff here at the newspaper, were concerned about the levee systems when it was revealed that there were breaks that had to be patched up before the river crested.
However, our local officials did a wonderful job and worked hard to fix the areas, and they have held. Now, the river is falling hour by hour toward normal levels, and none of the levees gave way thanks to the hard work of so many.
Several church organizations, such as New Life Church and Family Church, stepped up to help out, in addition to the White Hall Dirt Dawgs 8U baseball team, along with the Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff Dollarway, Watson Chapel and White Hall high school football teams, to fill sandbags and to complete other chores needed to assist those in need during the flood.
The Quapaw Nation – developers of the Saracen Casino that will soon be built in Pine Bluff – have stepped up as well and are providing funding to help with recovery efforts. Needless to say, there have also been countless residents from across the county, state and nation step up to help out in any way that they can to help others.
There is a very long list of people and organizations – some that we may not know about – who have all responded with neighborly love and charity in both the tornado and the flood. The night of the tornado, there were residents providing food and water to the Pine Bluff Convention Center when folks from Broadmoor were evacuated, in addition to a gentleman who purchased hotel rooms for numerous nights for a handful of citizens who were displaced.
This was done out of their own pockets and bank accounts, out of the love for their community, rather than the need to be recognized.
You see, when you have disasters like this, the true character of a community is revealed. We have all seen the stories of neighborhoods that have been ravished with crime, looting, rape and murder following natural disasters. We have not seen anything like this with either the flood or the tornado, and that makes us proud.
You see, we refuse to believe the negative talk about this area. Sure, there are some issues that we have to address, but name us a town or county that doesn’t have some issues to address.
The City of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County are on their way back up. You can already see the signs of this. There have been new organizations pop up whose focus is to help spread the good news and entice others to put a positive foot forward and to help revive the area. We all live here, so we may as well continue to work to improve what we’ve got.
The fact of the matter is this: The true heart of Pine Bluff and the true heart of Jefferson County has been shown over the past month and a half. Sure, there are people who will continue to say negative things, but it is very easy to combat those negative comments when we continue to have people showing the goodwill they have in recent weeks.
Keep fighting the good fight. The attitude and culture are beginning to change for the positive in Jefferson County, and the proof has been shown over the past month and a half.