GUSHER: For the efforts by Longview first responders and others to rescue drivers — and vehicles — during Monday’s deluge. Longview Fire Department spokesman Kevin May said at least two water rescues were performed by firefighters in downtown and another in a neighborhood off Judson Road. And News-Journal photographer Michael Cavazos captured images of an employee with Cutter Towing trying to remove a stranded vehicle from chest-deep water in the underpass on High Street near Cotton Street.
DUSTER: For the lack of caution exhibited by drivers who tried to make it through flooded underpasses Monday in downtown Longview. Those rash decisions not only endangered the drivers and any passengers in their vehicles, but also the first responders who provided help. Fortunately, no one was injured during Monday’s water rescues. Please, folks: Avoid flooded underpasses and roads. The alternate route is always safer.
GUSHER: For a new strategic plan by the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler that aims to expand services and increase the number of community members the nonprofit agency is able to help. The food bank, which serves Gregg and 25 other area counties, is using donations totaling $11.8 million to implement the plan. About $9 million of that came from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who announced this past year that the food bank was among almost 400 nonprofit organizations that she would donate to. The money comes at a crucial time. Dennis Cullinane, the organization’s CEO, talked this past week at a news conference about how the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the food crisis in the region, noting one in five East Texans, including one in four children, are facing hunger. As part of the strategic plan, the East Texas Food Bank will invest in strategic partner food pantries to expand the capacity to provide traditional meal distribution and increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach and applications. The organization also plans to bring the resource center model that the nonprofit organization started in Lufkin to other high-need communities. The resource centers would provide healthy pantry items along with other resources for working families in need. We applaud the food bank’s leadership for devising a strategy to meet the growing hunger needs in our communities.
DUSTER AND GUSHER: A duster for the recent cases of COVID-19 that have forced the Upshur County Jail to restrict who is booked into the facility and suspend in-person visitation. But a gusher for the proactive steps taken by Sheriff Larry Webb and the sheriff’s office to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep inmates and employees safe. Webb said Tuesday that visitation will be suspended for 30 days. He also detailed the temporary booking procedures for the jail. “As this illness is highly contagious, the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office has restricted the booking of inmates unless it is significantly necessary,” he said in a statement. “Criminal cases will be filed on those persons who would have been arrested on-site, and warrants will be sought for these persons’ arrest when the illness subsides within the jail. Deputies will continue to arrest any persons who present an immediate threat to public safety.” Webb further explained that in violent crime situations, suspects will continue to be booked into the jail. The resurgence of virus cases in the region is bad news all the way around. Kudos to Webb and his staff for dealing with the problem head on.