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By BETH ZUMWALT
Dennis and Teresa Wade recently returned after spending nine days in Baton Rogue, La. It was not a second or even third honeymoon for the couple. They were there helping restore power to rural areas, just outside of Baton Rogue after Hurricane Ida struck the area the end of August.
“Our hotel was in Baton Rogue,” Dennis Wade said. “But our work took us to some smaller towns north and northeast of the city.”
Wade said one of the towns was about the size of Detroit, another had 19,000 people, another 2,000 people and another 8-10,000 people.
“Teresa and I took turns driving down there,” Wade said. “But, once we were there, she was the driver and I was the accessor, a job I had while I was working.”
But Teresa did more than sit in the vehicle and wait for Dennis to finish his task.
“She took snacks and water and other items to those people who had been without electricity and in a lot of cases had no way to get out,” Wade said. “Even in the places where wind didn’t blow over the trees or break them off, the enormous amounts of rainfall saturated the ground so much, tree roots couldn’t hold the trees and many were blown over roots and all, by very little wind.”
With those in rural areas trapped and even if they could get to a store or a town, there was no electricity, no cell phone service and everything was closed up, according to Wade.
“When we first got there, there were gas stations open, but, then there were two shootings at filling stations and the police were monitoring them,” Wade said. “Those people were pretty much on their own.”
Wade said this was his fifth hurricane trip and he also helped with the derecho that hit Iowa, last year.
“We’ve been doing this for since 2018,” Wade said. “In 2018, we did one then in 2019, we did another. In 2020 we did five and the derecho.”
Wade said he got into the help plan a few years ago when he attended a breakfast for retired Ameren employees and a man from Missouri approached him.
“There were looking for retired couples,” Wade said. “Teresa retired from teaching in 2012, the same year I retired from Ameren after 37 years.”
While, Ida didn’t cause the worse devastation, the Wade’s have seen, they said it was a close second to a Hurricane Laura which hit in 2020.
Both Wades say they enjoyed helping out and felt most people genuinely appreciated their help in speeding along the restoration as well as the necessities they distributed.