Then The Floods Came

Atlas Serves Up Jambalaya To Help Vendor Hit Hard By Louisiana Disaster

G.K. Sharman, Writer
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After rain deluged southern Louisiana in August 2016, the Stine Home and Yard location in Walker, LA, was slammed.

Workers at the store, part of a building supply and home improvement chain that offers Atlas products, couldn't keep anything in stock. The store's normal sales volume was 697 transactions a day. After the flood, the number jumped to 1,898. Management sent out an email asking its suppliers for help to keep up with the demand.

Atlas products don’t sit on the shelves, said Clay Pruitt, regional manager for Atlas Roofing's Southern Region, so he and Brian Olagues, an Atlas sales representative for South Louisiana, came up with an ingenious — and totally local — way to assist store employees and customers alike: Cook up some jambalaya!

Pruitt and Olagues, accompanied by two of Olagues’ firefighter friends, Clifton McGovern of the Kenner Fire Department and Joseph Jennings of the New Orleans Fire Department, set up in the parking lot on Sept. 15 and fired up the cookers. Soon, the irresistible aroma of Cajun Country’s signature dish filled the air.

Employees from several nearby Stine locations helped out, Pruitt said, and together they fed lunch to about 120 people.

“The floods devastated South Louisiana, and a lot of people suffered,” Pruitt said. “We at Atlas were proud to pitch in and support one of our suppliers that did so much for its community in the wake of this disaster.”

Stine has 12 locations in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Walker store is near Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, a hard-hit area often shown during TV reports of the flooding.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office estimated that more than 60,000 homes were damaged and 30,000 people rescued. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that more than 109,000 people or households applied for help and 25,000 National Flood Insurance Program claims were filed.

The flood has been called the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey in 2012.

Record rains that fell at rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour were reported in some areas. Other parts of the region recorded 20 inches to 2 feet of precipitation. Overall, some estimates put the storm’s total rainfall at 7.1 trillion gallons of water — more than three times the amount dropped by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.