CENTREVILLE, Miss. – A group of Arkansas linemen working after Hurricane Ida found a second home in a small Mississippi town.
Situated between Natchez and Baton Rouge, Centreville, Mississippi missed most of the major damage from the storm but still lost power.
The arrival of linemen from Arkansas meant the eventual return of electricity. But while the men worked, they had to travel to and from a hotel more than two and a half hours away, or sleep in their trucks when the night got late.
“I got a text,” neighbor Tricia Rogers remembered, a message from one of the linemen asking if she knew of a place to stay closer to town. Crews had contacted her earlier in the day to work in the area and didn’t have any place to turn to.
For Rogers and several other families in town, the answer was simple.
“I had a personal retreat down the road that had five window units, a king-sized bed, and a lot of floor space,” Rogers said. She offered to let the men stay the night, a plan that was supposed to be for one night only.
But what began as just a place to crash turned into a two-week home base. The linemen crew of 20 would travel around the region, restoring power and clearing lines, and then have a warm bed and hot meal to return to.
Roger’s generosity turned into a coordinated effort by neighbors to show the team they were welcome. Neighbors cooked family dinners, shared stories of home, and slowly changed from strangers into friends.
“It’s been kind of a life changing thing for us,” said Centreville neighbor Treva Reid. She’s one of a few women who took the displaced men in, working out a meal schedule so those willing to pitch in could help.
“You spend that much time with 20 people,” Rogers added, “you become like family.”
But Rogers, Reid, and fellow-neighbor Jo-Lynn Odenwald don’t believe they did anything extraordinary, saying it was all about the hardworking men and they just did what they could to help those helping them.
“In the river parishes,” Odenwald said, “this is just what we do.”
Rogers says the last of the linemen left the Centreville area Thursday morning. The trio say they’ve already made plans to try and have a reunion.