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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Locals showing out of town linemen southern hospitality

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BATON ROUGE - Hundreds of utility workers, many from out of town, are in the Capital Region repairing power line damage from Hurricane Ida.

"They're grateful. They're humble. They don't want to take from us, but they are in need," local business owner Sarah Taylor said.

Taylor is the owner and operator of Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine in Baton Rouge, and she has turned her company into a full-service center for out-of-town line workers.

"Because of the state we're in, we're not able to provide food, we're not able to provide housing, we're not able to provide hotel rooms, yet we expect these folks to work 14, 16 hours a day in the heat, in the bugs, in the mud," Taylor said.

Donations from clients are allowing Taylor to provide room and board, two meals a day, and laundry service for 50 workers. All services are free for the workers who may need them.

At the Addis Community Center, some volunteers have come together to support the utility workers.

"It was absolutely incredible. The donations have not stopped," organizer Rhonda Coye said.

The volunteers have enough donations from the community to sleep almost 150 people. They also have more than enough food, laundry service, and portable hot showers.

"We heard about a need for the linemen who had traveled here and didn't have a place to stay, an idea that just turned into an incredible generosity from our community," Coye said.

"If we want to prosper as a state and move forward, it's time for the people to take charge and to do what we need to do to make sure the workers who are willing to put it out there for us have somebody to put it out there for them," Tayor said.

The linemen are expected to be in the area for at least another week, repairing the hurricane-damaged power grid.

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