Sometimes second is good enough

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How does it feel to be in second place? Sometimes second place is great. You’ve made it to the finals but just didn’t have what it took to finish the job. Then again, second place is the last loser.

In 1840, a tornado formed southwest of Natchez and moved northeast along the Mississippi River.

After making it mark through numerous plantations in Concordia Parish it hit Natchez Under-The-Hill destroying dozens of vessels docked there and most of the buildings.

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This twister continued its destructive path through the City of Natchez continuing it estimated mile wide destruction. An estimated 317 were left dead, 48 on land and 269 on the river. The true counts will never be known. At the time slave deaths usually were not counted. This tornado has been estimated as being a F5 on the Fujita scale. An F6 has never been recorded. This incident is the second worst loss of life due to a tornado in U.S. history.

In 1940, while Walter Barnes and His Royal Creolians orchestra from Chicago entertained the crowd at the Rhythm Night Club on St. Catherine St. An event hosted by the Moneywasters Social Club was well under way. A fire started at the only entrance to the Club which ended in a loss of life of 209 patrons.

This incident is the second worst loss of life due to fire in U.S. history.

As I write this after two weeks as your new director of Adams County Emergency Management Agency I have been wondering how to approach the public concerning issues of public safety.

I realize that these events are in the past, but haven’t we always been taught to learn from history and to not repeat those mistakes? In emergency services we critique all our past efforts not to criticize but to improve on our past performance.

Your EMA is here to serve you the public. We can’t do that without public involvement.

There are already many organizations that provide you with the opportunity to serve and I won’t begin to list any now. We’ll get to that later.

On a personal note, I am still trying to “get my feet wet” in my new position so I do still need a bit of time to get comfortable, and with the current Mississippi River conditions I might need you to wait until my feet get “dry.”

In the near future your Adams County EMA will be contacting more organizations about how we can all work together to protect our community.

Our main concern as a community is to make sure we never get to first place. It’s great not to be No. 1 sometimes.

Stan Owens Jr. is the director of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency.