Recent Flooding in Louisiana

08/22/16
Recent Flooding in Louisiana

I usually write about history but given the recent flooding in Louisiana, I wanted to take this opportunity to address the unfolding catastrophe. Approximately 6.9 trillion gallons of rain fell on Louisiana from August 8th through the 14th. That is enough water to fill more than 10.4 million Olympic size swimming pools. About 30 parishes (our equivalent of a county) have been declared disaster areas. In one part of Livingston Parish alone, 31 inches of rain fell in just 15 hours. There was no place for the water to go. Whole neighborhoods went under. At least 40,000 houses have been damaged and more than 20,000 people have been displaced. It is the worst natural disaster since hurricane Sandy. This was a 500 year flood with many people lived in areas not deemed flood zones. These are just numbers. Cold statistics and they do no justice to the tragedy unfolding. They do not illuminate the misery and heartbreak.

I recently volunteered with a group to help clean out houses in one of the harder hit areas. We passed a cemetery on the way there and it was like a scene from the last judgement. Coffins burst out of the ground, pushing their stone slabs aside as though God Himself had called them forth. The devastation is hard to comprehend. Every house we saw was flooded with 8 feet of water. You can see it on the faces of everyone you meet, the weariness etched there but they keep going, fueled by adrenaline and energy drinks. Sadness darkens the eyes even as they smile and laugh and try somehow to just get through it all. When you pull out the contents of someone’s home it is a glimpse into the intimacy of their lives. A baby picture ruined. A Scrabble game full of mud. A souvenir mug from Florida. This is their life now, the exhausting hours of dragging out memories and learning to let go of a past washed away. They spend all day every day moving through the wreckage, fighting tears and fatigue. There are no amenities in the flood zone. A bathroom becomes a chair with a hole cut out, positioned over a bucket and somewhat obscured by a deer blind. The smell is at times, overwhelming.

I am writing this as a plea to everyone that reads this to donate your money or your time. As time goes by there will be some new disaster to blacken our television screens but this struggle will go on for months to come and I urge you not to forget. If you donate now then please donate again in the months ahead. You can call 504 485 6397 to pledge financial assistance or you can text LAFLOODS to 90999 and $10 will be charged to your phone bill. Together, we can make a difference.

-Sandy
Crescent City Historic Tours