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Randolph County staff showcases mettle during a tough situationDate: 06/15/2017
The dedication, resourcefulness, and resiliency of staff from the Department of Human Services (DHS) Randolph County office is being tested.
And much to the delight of many, they’ve excelled while dealing with a major inconvenience.
“We’re just working hard as usual,” said Brenda Poindexter, Randolph County Administrator.
Last month, a series of rain showers flooded several communities in Northeast Arkansas. The Randolph County office is located in the town of Pocahontas, one of the areas ravaged by the floods.
The office sits in close proximity to the Black River. In fact, its banks are visible from the office. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the building has been flooded. It was also overwhelmed by waters from the Black River in 2011. It took six months for the facility to reopen for business.
To assure that staff would be properly prepared if the waters ever rose to a similar height, county staff created a flood evacuation plan and included it in the county procedures plan. Additionally, staff has been encouraged to closely monitor the weather and river levels. The employee observations typically begin in March.
“About a week-and-a-half before this flood I had a staff meeting,” Poindexter said. “We addressed exactly when to have items out of the office, and when to contact the supervisors of the various divisions for direction as to where they would be housed. Milissa Gentry, county administrator for the Lawrence County office, also started developing a plan for how to accommodate the Randolph County staff, if the flood occurred. We had it all set. Staff was excellent. Everybody knew their responsibility and they took care of it.”
Some staff members worked on Sunday to process case actions to ensure that clients were properly served, and to also make sure the processing of case actions was timely.
Nevertheless, the plan was accompanied by a small dose of anxiety. In fact, on the day of the evacuation, Lawrence County staff along with family members assisted Randolph County in moving essential items to the Lawrence County office.
“It was chaotic and nerve wracking, but we all get along well and work well together so that made it easier,” Andrea Jennings, Randolph County Program Eligibility Specialist said. “But we were much better prepared for it this time.”
Currently, there’s no timetable for when the office will be ready to resume normal operations.
In the meantime, several staff members are working out of a single room in the Lawrence County DHS which is located in nearby Walnut Ridge. Two of the employees are also working out of the Craighead County office. Meanwhile, a satellite office has been created in Pocahontas, where Randolph County clients can drop off important paperwork.
“We’ve processed lots of applications from people who lost food in the floods,” Jennings stated.
Overall, the work is constant; the burden immense, but Randolph County staff has still shined bright.
“This has been challenging. We’re sitting on top of each other,” Poindexter said. “We’re trying to work. It’s been tough on Lawrence County also. They now have 20 additional staff being there. But the staff is doing a wonderful job.”