Louisiana Flood of 2016

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Louisiana Flood of 2016

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Ted Jackson of The Times-Picayune writes on the Louisiana flood victims:

You can hear it in their trembling voices. You can see it in their sad eyes. They still can’t believe their own stories.

“It came up fast,” said 9-year-old Colby Stewart as he remembered the flooding in his south Denham Springs neighborhood. “There wasn’t even water on the street … and then it was up to here,” he said as he swept his palm beneath his chin. Then he buried his face with his hands and arms to disguise his tears (NOLA.com).

Four weeks past the Louisiana flood of 2016, most of the drama is gone. The stranded have been rescued. The water has receded. Cherished memories are trashed along the roadside. But now, there is a palpable sense of lingering shock. It’s as if there has been a death in the family, the funeral is over and the house is empty (NOLA.com).

Now what?

Niki and her husband, Tookie, are making strides toward recovery after their home near Port Vincent took on 2 feet of water. Before they piled their possessions by the road or ripped their home down to the studs, they took out a loan for a travel trailer so they could continue to live on their property. They paid $22,000 for the basic model, Niki said. “It’s got a bed. It’s got a bathroom. It’s got a kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator” (NOLA.com).

The couple of 26 years is trying to keep a sense of humor. Tookie spins their recovery as an “adventure” and their new housing as the latest step in “downsizing.” Their first house in Harvey was 2,150 square feet. Their flooded house was 1,480 square feet. Their trailer is 232 (NOLA.com).

“She’s taking it a lot harder than I am,” said Tookie, as the couple stood on the bare joists of their gutted home. The water was 5 feet in the yard, and more than 2 feet in the house. They plan on rebuilding, possibly raising the house. Maybe they’ll rebuild and then sell. One thing is certain. They don’t want a repeat performance (NOLA.com).

“I’m glad there weren’t any casualties,” Niki said, brushing away tears and thinking about her family, “but it’s hard being taken out of your house in a boat (NOLA.com).

“I can’t look at the pile of debris without crying. It’s not about the stuff. But what can I say? There are some things I wish I still had, things we’ve had for a long time” (NOLA.com).

Ever the optimist, Tookie reminded her, “There’s nobody else I’d rather be homeless with than you” (NOLA.com).

A few miles north, along a winding Louisiana Highway 16, rural acreage gives way to neighborhoods and subdivisions of south Denham Springs. Along the way, debris trucks with cantilevered claws clear piles of rotting debris through one middle-class neighborhood after another (NOLA.com).

Near the Wal-Mart store, Eastover Boulevard attracts serious attention from a number of charity agencies. Trucks, trailers, and volunteers scoured the street delivering meals, cleaning supplies, stocked ice chests, and goodwill (NOLA.com).

The neighborhood is made up of about 200 densely packed, run-down rental mobile homes. It also has a dangerous reputation – one that many residents say is overstated (NOLA.com).

During the flooding, some areas took on more than 5 feet of water according to some residents. While some of the homes were being gutted or mucked out, others simmered in the September heat. Since many units are rentals, some residents are left with few options but to live in the debris (NOLA.com).

Jami Haws, 22, had more than a foot of water in her rental. She said her landlord is demanding $500 rent before he will touch the mess. She feels it should be cleaned before she pays. “I just want to cry. I hate talking about it now,” she said. She’s afraid she may be evicted (NOLA.com).

The kitchen cabinets are warping and the damp floor tiles are peeling. Several of the doors are swollen shut. “At least I have a working air conditioner to sleep under,” she said (NOLA.com).

“We are the land of the lost,” she said. “I get mad, I get sad, and I get happy again. It comes in waves.” Just walking through here it is just an emotional roller coaster every single time” (NOLA.com).

See the full article here.



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