On August 11th a storm with no name hit Louisiana. It dropped almost three feet of rain in under 48 hours, about 7.1 trillion gallons.
Baton Rouge and it’s surrounding areas have historically been a no-flood zones,
so the residents and infrastructure was not prepared to deal with the horror
that followed. Residents do not have flood insurance as these are not flood areas.
Though this is one of the largest natural disasters to ever hit the US, very little media coverage has made the national airwaves.
Attention brings much needed help in this aftermath. With the media more widely focusing on the Olympic Games in Rio, little of that attention or help has been coming to the people of Louisiana.
These are the words of my friend Randall Flint. His home, along with over 110,000
others in the area, has been damaged by the flood. I asked if I may share them with you all, along with a link to donate to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Flood Relief Fund.
Water. I’ll need water.
It was about 4:00 AM. Six hours ago, I was sitting in a folding chair, like one you’d bring to the beach. I was watching some local kids play basketball in the parking lot, while I was sucking on a bottle of vodka.
Two hours before that, I was in a local bar, watching flood stories on the news, talking with my fellow patrons about how bad this looked. Even then, I didn’t think it would come after me. I’d never even come close to flooding before, after all.
Now, however, I had been awake for a little bit, due to the commotion in the parking lot, and had moved my car to higher ground. The front of the complex was already too deep for my Civic, so I hopped the curb with a metal on concrete grating, and gotten it to the highest ground available. I went back in the house and started piling everything I had down low, up high. My books. Speakers. My dryer, on the couch. I was still half drunk and half asleep, and for some reason that didn’t exactly make my decision making skills top notch. I’d done the best I could in the time I had, and now I needed to pack. Wallet, Phone, Keys. The essentials. I’d just gotten contacts a little more than a week before, so no glasses. I ate a banana. I figured I could use the potassium. I took a swig of vodka. I don’t normally day drink, but water was seeping past my door into my kitchen, so it seemed like a good idea.
Then I left.
My mother bought this townhouse in 1998. She did it so me and my girlfriend could have an affordable place to stay while we worked though college. I’d moved out long ago, then moved back in. She developed cancer, gave it to me formally, and died. It’d been my home for off and on, 18 years. I had to leave it to the water. Not only that, I had to take water with me. As it puddled around my feet while I stood in the kitchen, I filled a plastic bottle. It would soon be hot out there, and I didn’t know when I’d find shade.
I headed out, and it got to my waist. I was wearing a green pineapple bathing suit, and a black and gold Saints Tshirt, and I had a ziplock bag with everything I had on me. No shoes. Two older women across the way for me were under their covered parking. I walked one of them through the water, it was getting deep. We headed to Old Hammond, seemingly the only high ground around. The other wasn’t about to be lead by anyone. I got to the street, and I decided I was going to walk the few miles to a friends house. Turns out my soles were less tough than machismo. So I went back for my shoes.
I waded though my first floor and tried to ignore it. The water was to my ankles on the tile. I don’t know, I was just saying ‘It’s not there. Don’t worry about it.’. I stomped up my stairs, pointedly ignoring how I was getting them wet. I put on my shoes, then went back down. I pointedly ignored it when I stepped into brown water. It wasn’t river water. It was nothing, you know?
There had been some sort of sleepover in one of the nearby units, they were filing out, so I showed them where to go. I sat in the grass, and was determined to rest. Athletes run through water. Fat IS management types, not so much. Ants had other ideas. There were more than I expected, so I ended up walking back into the water, to get them off. I was getting tired of carrying around all my stuff in a double ziplocked bag, so I went back for a backpack. This time when I came out, it was the Indian…maybe Pakistani couple from across the way.
The older girl always smiled and waved at me when I was checking mail. She was always so shy. The wife of the couple was pregnant, and carrying the little one. The guy seemed unwilling to do much. It’s hard not to judge, I don’t know what his issue was. So I picked up the older one. She’s all bones. Not in like an unhealthy way, just a skinny little kid. It wasn’t so bad, we got back to Old Hammond, she was so shy but she was all grins. Made me smile.
There was more of that, but by 9:00 AM the water was to my chest and the current was swift. I didn’t want to go into my home again. I didn’t want to see any more. Last time I’d gone, for the backpack, the water was over my first step to my stairs and halfway up the next and I wasn’t sure I could just ignore it again.
I walked towards the Ideal Mart. I’d been drinking of my water bottle, and it was getting low. I was tired and just dragging my carcass along the blacktop, feeling like a drowned rat. A pretty latina girl handed me a water bottle from a tub from the back of a truck. It wasn’t like she was asking me, she saw me and shoved it into my hand. It was the first, but far from the last time something like that happened. I made it to Ideal Mart and got ahold of friends, who came and basically rescued my ass, but not before more people came by with more water, which I drank greedily.
I sort of expected water would be scarce and hard won, and everywhere I went people were handing it out as freely as air. This is the part where I should have had some sort of cry and heartbreaking revelation about the inherent goodness of my fellow human but it wasn’t like that. I just…appreciated it I guess.
If you would like to help the people of Baton Rouge rebuild a donation can be made directly to The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Flood Relief Fund.
Help is desperately needed.