It was about 4:30 am when the transformer blew, it made an awful crash. I thought it was just a terrible storm. At 5:45 the alarms for school went off. At 6:00am the first National Weather Service alarm went off. We lived off a street that flooded easy. We may be able to make it to school, but we wouldn’t be able to make it back. So we all went back to sleep, ignorant.
When we all got up our back yard was full of water. The gravel road we live off of was shin deep. We did what any family from Louisiana does, we put on our shoes and started wading in it. We took funny pictures and the kids celebrated a good ole’ South Louisiana Storm Day. Yankees have snow days, we have hurricane and tropical storm days, but this was the storm with no name. I opened up Facebook and ignorance quickly left, devastation rolled in.
Friends were putting their feet down in water. They waded out of their house with the clothes on their back and the pets in their hand. Then there were the posts about the ones who couldn’t get out. This was just rain, the worst was yet to come, but we didn’t know that yet.
I live off a gravel road with 13 houses. We lovingly refer to it as the compound. Moving here was the best move we could have made for our girls. They can walk down to their friends house without worry. There’s a group text that rolls around, “Can someone send my child home?” We played hard that day. When the neighbor with the high truck went to the store, do you know what I asked for? Coke. I asked for coke. I had no idea what devastation was happening around me.
I think somewhere after the red beans and rice our neighbor made for us and trying to figure out how to get to my mom’s, it hit me. The river will rise. The worst is yet to come. My husband and I sat on the couch and talked about the river cresting. If it’s going to get in our house, we need to move the furniture up. We need to prepare. He just kept saying, “I know. I know.” I cried a bit. Then I went to bed.
When I walked downstairs my feet hit the floor. I sighed. I looked out the window. Our water was receding. My feet were standing on dry floor. I grabbed breakfast for my 12 month old. We ate, blissfully unaware.
I sat down on my couch and I opened Facebook to see, “We need rescue by boat. We are at 123 Main Street. 2 adults, 1 kid, 2 dogs.” My best friend, trapped.
I scrolled a little more, “We need rescue by boat. We are at 345 South Street. 4 adults, 3 kids, 1 dog.”
The posts were endless. Phones were out, wifi was all we had. Social Media was all we had. Hundreds of posts calling for rescue and help. Desperation typed out in Facebook statuses. Hundreds turned to 1,000. Yet somehow, the rest of the world had no idea.
Over the next hours every man and woman with a truck and fishing boat would convoy. They would walk a pirogue filled with children and trashbags of belongings to high ground. Bass boats would perform rescues. Motorists stranded for 24 hours were being dropped food, by helicopter. National Guard was rolling in. Coast Guard coming. Calls for help and check-ins all over Facebook, yet do you know what was trending? Trump. Hillary. Kardashian. Justin Bieber. I guess if the storm has no name it doesn’t trend very well. #stormwithnoname isn’t pretty. #LAFlood
Look, I get those things are infinitely more fun to talk about than the 30,000 people rescued and the 15,000 in shelters. I understand that 11 deaths and still rising waters may not be your favorite topic of conversation, but it’s happening. Your fellow Americans are experiencing a flood that is now being called the 1000 year flood. It’s still happening. The river is still rising and the flood waters have to go somewhere. South Louisiana is drowning and communities are rallying not waiting for federal aid, but lifting their neighbor up, both literally and figuratively. I get that you just don’t know yet.
If you have never been here you may not know, but we shine in tragedy. Any other time we are your fun cousin you take to your party. We are the aunt or uncle you want manning the grill or cooking up a pot gumbo. We are notorious for front porch soul and down home cooking. We like our whiskey and we love our swamp pop. We in Louisiana have four seasons, and the rest of America loves us for it: Football season, Mardi Gras, Crawfish Season, Snowball Season. We will always welcome you down here for any of them, but right now we are in a season of devastation and, because we are Louisiana, we will soon be in a season of rebirth and rebuild. We hope you’ll love us for that too.
If you want to help the efforts you can visit the “How to Help” portion of our South Louisiana Flood Guide.