August 23 – September 23, 2016: Nothing can prepare you for what we saw but it did bring back memories of Hurricane Katrina and what she did to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The area looked like a bomb had gone off but people were working, going through the rubble, ripping down walls, pulling out insulation and flooring, dragging all their worldly possessions to the curb, trying to save anything they could.
Let me give you some perspective on what we found out about the South Louisiana flood …
1- South Louisiana received over 30 inches of rain in three days (Aug. 12-14) and the rain had nowhere to go.
2- According to Matt Sitkowski, The Weather Channel, four trillion gallons of water fell. That’s the equivalent to more than 6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
3- In my Dad’s community (of Denham Springs) 90% of the homes flooded, most of which had never flooded before.
It was surreal. We stayed outside the area and traveled in daily so we could have clean water, hot showers, use of a nightly laundry, and a nice place to ‘get away from it all.’ The next thing to hit us was the heat and humidity. It felt like the air was so thick you could swim through it. However, on the flip side the people were amazing/caring/helpful and the food was outstanding. There is no place in the world as wonderful as South Louisiana and even though we are now based in Texas, Louisiana remains in our hearts!
By the time we arrived at my Dad’s house, volunteers had removed the bottom portion of the dry wall/insulation, taken a lot of the contents out of the house, and dragged them into the yard. The house, however, was full of river silt, water, and possibly sewage.
Our task (with the help of my younger sister and niece from Mississippi) was to begin going through the house getting everything cleaned up, remove the standing water (inside cabinets, containers, etc.), go through the items pulled out of the house, and see what could be saved. We also had to drag anything un-salvageable out to the growing trash pile. We washed, cleaned, disinfected, dried, and boxed up everything we could. (We did this multiple times.) However, the town water was contaminated so we had to box up a lot of dirty items (for example, dishes) which will need to be cleaned when they get ready to move back into the home. We did this each day until we could no longer move but we were doing the same thing that thousands of other people were doing in South Louisiana. Everyone was just digging their way out of the flood.
Towards the end of our stay, my niece from Tennessee, her daughters, and their church group came to town and went through the huge discard piles to look for items that had been missed and to condense it so that the town trash service would pick it up. We will forever be thankful to this group because by this time the pile was really gross and we no longer had the drive to accomplish this task.
After we all had done all we could, Dad hired a company to finish drying out the house (the high humidity made it hard to dry out) and he found a contractor to begin rebuilding his home. At this point, Don called his family to see if they needed help but they were well on their way towards rebuilding with the help of extended family and friends.
We were exhausted but blessed that we had been able to help and that our families were safe.
Our Home Base for Helping with Flood Recovery:
Aug. 23-26 Reunion Lake RV Resort, Robert, LA
Aug. 26-Sept. 9 Fairview Riverside State Park, Madisonville, LA
Sept. 9-11 Davis Bayou, National Seashore, Ocean Spring, MS
Sept. 11-18 Reunion Lake RV Resort, Robert, LA
Sept. 18-23 Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville, LA