POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) - Planes have crashed, rivers have flooded, a levee was breached and the Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper responsible for communicating with the public in southeastern Missouri worked to learn the job to which he had been recently assigned.
The Daily American Republic reported that Trooper Clark Parrott started working as the public information and education officer in late March. Three minutes after starting his first shift, a radio operator warned him that a plane was down in the area and the phones started ringing. After that, a pair of crop dusters clipped each other and crashed elsewhere. And then it started to rain.
Heavy rain flooded rivers, closed road and prompted evacuations for thousands. After flooding started to calm down in part of the area, flooding along the Mississippi River led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to breach the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County. This past week, severe storms packing funnel clouds, high winds and possible tornadoes hit the area. Some homes were damaged or destroyed and the Highway Patrol was sent to check on residents in an unincorporated town.
"I walked into a brand new job. There was no easing into it," Parrott said. "I hit the ground running and had to figure it out as I was doing it."
Parrott is assigned to Highway Patrol Troop E, which covers 13 counties in southeastern Missouri. Besides communicating with news reporters, Parrott also is responsible for public education programs.
Parrott, who grew up in West Plains, was appointed to the Highway Patrol in 2002 when he was 32 years old. Before that, he managed Quiznos restaurants in West Plains and Nixa and was encouraged to join the patrol while going through a Highway Patrol community alliance program.
Initially, he was assigned to the Highway Patrol troop covering the far northwestern corner where he helped with some of the public education programs after a training officer decided that someone fresh from the academy should speak at a school job fair. Parrott eventually would handle 30 to 50 public education programs a year, picking them up whenever he could. When he first was transferred to southeastern Missouri, Parrott initially was assigned to two counties in the region and also handled some public education programs.
"I just enjoyed sharing the message of the Highway Patrol," he said.
Now in his new job as the public information officer, Parrott said he also is learning about other aspects of the job. He is updating PowerPoint presentation and handouts to be used for programs and has discovered that he must make changes to the writing style he uses for reports before it can be sent out to the public.
There also has been plenty of news to keep him busy, numerous of emails and a regularly ringing phone.
"I knew I could do the programs. It was this part that's kind of eye-opening," he said.
Information from: Daily American Republic, http://www.darnews.com