CENTERVILLE, miss. – A group of Arkansas linemen working after Hurricane Ida found a second home in a small Mississippi town.
Mississippi is between Natchez and Baton Rouge, Centerville, Mississippi missed most of the major storm damage but was still losing performance.
The arrival of linemen from Arkansas eventually marked the return of electricity. But while the men worked, they had to drive to and from a hotel more than two and a half hours away, or sleep in their trucks when it got late.
“I got a text message,” recalled neighbor Tricia Rogers, a message from one of the linemen asking if she knew where to stay near town. The crews had contacted her earlier in the day to work in the area and had nowhere to turn.
For Rogers and several other families in town, the answer was simple.
“I had a personal retreat down the street with five window units, a king-size bed, and lots of space,” said Rogers. She offered to let the men stay the night, a plan that was only meant for one night.
But what started as a crash site became a two-week home base. The 20-strong linemen crew traveled the region, reconnecting power and clearing the lines, then had a warm bed and meal to return to.
Roger’s generosity became a coordinated effort by the neighbors to show the team that they were welcome. Neighbors cooked family dinners, shared stories from home, and slowly transformed from strangers into friends.
“It changed our lives,” said Centerville neighbor Treva Reid. She is one of the few women who has taken in the displaced men and devised a meal plan so that those willing to help can help.
“When you spend that much time with 20 people,” adds Rogers, “you become like family.”
But Rogers, Reid and their neighbor Jo-Lynn Odenwald don’t think they did anything out of the ordinary.
“In the river communities,” said Odenwald, “we’ll do that.”
Rogers says the last of the linemen left the Centerville area Thursday morning. The trio say they have already made plans to meet again.