Power of Water: A Flood Story
Early That Morning
It was a little after seven in the morning. Nothing felt different about this day. It was just another normal August summer morning, or so I thought. I was still sleeping and looking forward to sleeping in because it was my day off. Sure, the rain began. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Until that moment I was suddenly told to get up. It was not my alarm, but it was my father telling me to get up and start to pack whatever I could because we had very little time to get out. At first, I thought it was a nightmare, but then I looked out of the window and saw the river that was once our street. We now had waterfront property, but it was not the kind you could enjoy. It was time to get to higher ground, but to where? How do we get to higher ground when you are supposed to be in a no flood zone? This was only the beginning of one of the worst experiences in my life.
I packed faster than I have ever packed in my life. I don't know if anything matches. I don't even know if I have the same color socks. All I know is that it is time to move and all I could think about was getting my brand new vehicle out of there. I grabbed my keys, and my dad just say go. Get on out of here. My car was the lowest, so it was only a matter of time before I wouldn't be able to move it. As I went outside, the water was at my ankles. I hurried and as I got to the end of the driveway, the panic started to creep in.
At the front of the neighborhood the neighbors as well as the National Guard were already coming together to start getting those who were already trapped. Never in my life would I ever thought I would see a motor boat sailing right past me in my front yard. I was able to get out of the neighborhood and started my trek to get to my sister. My sister and her family were on the other side of town. As I made it out to the main road, once again the flood trapped my escaped route. Part of the main road was underwater. No way to cross. All the cars in front of me were crossing the median and heading the opposite way. Air boats began to become the main source of traffic. Now the panic started. I did not know where to go. I did not know where my family would be. This is the moment I felt helpless.
In my moment of prayer
Like most Christians do in the time of panic or worry, we turn it over to God. I was scarred. I had no where to go. I started to head back to the other part of time. At the time I figured it was my only option. But I realize now after, that it was God's plan all along. There was a church across the main highway that began to collect the flood victims. I started to head north only to realize that once again, the road was flooded. The Amite river runs through most of Denham Springs and after the river had run over, roads and areas that have never flooded before were now just another victim of tragedy. I got a call from my father that they had gone to the church. So, after multiple turnarounds, I made it to shelter.
With Open Arms
As I sat in that shelter, on a church pew getting ready for what would be many sleepless nights, the feeling of being safe was bittersweet. See, just like the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it is very hard to get cellular phone service. So I still did not know where my sister and her family was. I worried about them. What were my niece and nephew feeling? Are they safe? I prayed a lot that night. So many people affected. So many lives were changed. I dozed in and out of sleep the entire night. It felt like cat naps, more than a nights rest. The reality of this tragedy began to sink in deeper and deeper. And this was only the beginning.
United Methodist Church were here to help. Without them I have no idea how or where I would have been able to take shelter for three days. They gave us all the supplies that we needed. We had three meals a day plus snacks. Members provided us with clothing and supplies. The Red Cross would also begin to help out the next day, once they were able to get into town. I am forever grateful for these two organizations for donating what we needed to get through this tragedy.
Reunited and It Feels So Good
After three long days, my whole Louisiana family was about to be reunited. My brother-in-law's family were able to miss flooding and able to take in my sister and her family. We finally were able to all be under one roof again. It was the best feeling ever. Tears of sadness and joy were shed. Hugs were given. The things we take for granted were not things of pure joy. Those three days felt like an eternity. I will never again take the little things in life for granted anymore. You never know when those things may be taken away from you.
The Damage Is Done
Now that we have come together, it is time to assess the damage. This is the most nervous I have seen my father in a very long time. We got about two feet of water in the house. Some parts maybe a little higher. The damage was bad but not near as bad as what some others got. My sister's family had over five feet of water pretty much destroying everything they had. My niece and nephew lost every toy they owned, except for the ones they packed. It broke my heart.
I lost a lot of stuff because of the flood. I lost electronics, clothes and many other things. But what hurt the most, were losing the things I could not replace. Over the years I collected my nieces art she made for me. She painted a Batman symbol for me freehand and it was my all time favorite piece she did. She was only six when she painted it, but I was so impressed with her talent that I wanted to frame it and put it up. I kept the rest of her art in a fold I had in my desk. Of course all of her art would be below those tragic two feet. Tears began to flow. I didn't care how much money I lost with all my other possessions I owned, it was those irreplaceable things that did me in.
The Cajun Navy. Louisiana Together
Some light in the darkness of tragedy should always be searched for. Things happen for a reason. Sometimes we have to go through trials in life. Before the flood happened, I accepted a job that would relocate me to Hershey, Pennsylvania. So, I guess instead of having to drive a moving truck or caravan with my family, God made my move a bit easier because now I can fit all my belongings into my own vehicle with room to spare. I realize now that in the time of tragedy, you always have to look on the positive side. Some days are harder than others. Some days you just want to throw your fit and tantrum and shake your fist at God asking why now? Why do we have to go through this. They say, God always has a reason and only tests the strong people of faith. Well, I will say we were all tested through this and are still being tested.
My parents house is close to being livable again. My sister's on the hand has yet to begin a rebuild. Many families, businesses and people were affected in a major way. This wasn't just some area of town, this was an entire population. I am back for a short time before I take my next step to moving to Raleigh, North Carolina and I can see the good and bad still in affect from this flood that took place back in August.
I look back at the events and started to see the positive in all of this. Before I moved, my entire Louisiana family was under one roof for about a little over a month. I got to spend many hours with my niece and nephew. We all got cook together. Play games together. Get on each other's nerves together. I will always remember those moments. Seeing the rebuilding still unfolding, I think about how far we came. The best part of this whole tragedy is how a whole community came together to help one another out. It didn't matter what race, religion, or political background you were, people pulled together to help. That is what I will take most from this tragedy. The people of Louisiana pulled together to show that we have each other's back no matter what you believe in or stand for. And no matter where I end up in life, I will always be proud that my journey began in the Pelican State. Louisiana will always be the roots for how I continue to live my life.