Texas Rangers help Louisiana troopers with Hurricane Laura recovery

Ranger Christopher Cash and Capt. Wendy Wakeman (first and second from the left) and Ranger Brandon Bess (right) visit with Louisiana State Trooper Jeff Johnson during a supply delivery to Lake Charles in September.

Texas Rangers are used to responding to calls for help, so when a fellow law enforcement officer in Louisiana needed a helping hand following Hurricane Laura, they answered.

Texas Ranger Brandon Bess, who serves Liberty, Hardin and San Jacinto counties, helped organize a donation of supplies with the assistance of other Rangers in Company A for Louisiana State Trooper Jeff Johnson and another Louisiana trooper whose homes in Lake Charles sustained extensive damage.

“Jeff lost a huge section of his roof, windows were blown out and it rained inside his house for two days. All the sheetrock is ruined. The house might end up being a total loss,” Bess said.

Bess and other local Rangers became friends with Johnson and several Louisiana troopers after they met at a narcotics class. Living on the Gulf Coast has its shared challenges for both law enforcement officers and their agencies, so they check in with each other after major hurricanes to see how everyone fared. Hurricane Laura was brutal for Louisiana.

“Jeff was told the power may not be back on for a month,” Bess said. “Jeff’s generator died on him, which was only keeping his freezers running, and they [were] sleeping in their vehicles as it was the only air conditioning they have had since [the storm].”

According to Bess, Johnson passed up opportunities to get a new generator for his family because he felt his elderly neighbors were more in need.

The Johnson family is now sleeping in a travel trailer, said Bess, and a new generator that was donated to Company A will keep the lights on and keep the family cool, so they can rest during their storm recovery.

All totaled, Company A members passed a hat and gathered around $1,000 to donate to Johnson and the other trooper. In addition to the generator donated by Ranger Christopher Cash and the cash they all chipped in, the Rangers also delivered food, drinks, cleaning products, snacks and 30 gallons of gasoline.

“Having been in Jeff’s shoes, I know how nice the ‘small gestures’ from friends seem and you could see that in his face. He told me several times he just ‘didn’t know what to say’ and he was overwhelmed by our thoughts of he and his LSP partners,” Bess said.

Bess asks everyone to keep the Louisiana law enforcement officers in their prayers in the coming months. In addition to maintaining law and order through their jobs, they are trying to bring order back to their lives.

“They have a long road to rebuild,” he said.

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