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The Great Flood of 2016 in Louisiana

Updated on August 7, 2017
LauraTallo profile image

Laura Tallo is a photographer and artist in Hammond, Louisiana. She uses her photography and art work to support her Christian articles.

Riding Out The Great Flood of 2016

It was a Friday, August 11, 2016. I headed off to school worried about the rain that was coming down. When I reached the school parking lot, no one was there. My phone was in my hand, and I got a ro-bo call stating that we would not have school that day due to flash flooding that was expected in our area. I was wishing that I had gotten that call earlier!

I headed to the house that I own (I inherited it.) up La 43. I checked, and it was ok at that point. I thought, "I will go get my cats and ride the storm out here. This place never floods."

I drove home and told my husband what I wanted to do. He looked at me with concern in his eyes and said, "Please don't go. I really need you to stay with me. The river level is predicted to crest at 24 feet, and that is lower than what it was in March. It won't be that bad this time. So, please stay. I have a funny feeling that I am just going to need you."

That didn't leave me feeling very good at all. He had me back my car under my mother-in-law's carport, and then he pulled another vehicle in front of mine. These were the highest spots on our land, but my heart sank. I just knew that this was going to be bad. We watched the waters rise. We listened as the horns went off one-by-one as the waters claimed our cars. When the floors became wet, Todd and I moved everything into the foyer.

The rain didn't stop. We kept our eyes on the weather, and we listened as an airboat would occasionally pass to rescue others. My brother, who was down from North Dakota would call and check on us. He offered to come rescue us. We had plenty of food and water, and we knew that there were others who were on their rooftops who needed help much more desperately than we did. So, we declined. We were stranded in our home for three days. I secretly wondered about my other little house in the country.

I later learned that it flooded worse than where I was! I would have lost my car there too.

The Waters Rise

My husband sitting in a chair watching the water come into our home.
My husband sitting in a chair watching the water come into our home. | Source
This is my front yard. We parked a tractor by the front door. This would be our only means of escape.
This is my front yard. We parked a tractor by the front door. This would be our only means of escape. | Source
This is how high the water got in our sunken living room. This is the room where you saw my husband sitting earlier.
This is how high the water got in our sunken living room. This is the room where you saw my husband sitting earlier. | Source
My In-laws are my close neighbors. This is their house with one of our cars parked on the highest spot we could find. We lost both of our cars. My mother-in-law lost hers.
My In-laws are my close neighbors. This is their house with one of our cars parked on the highest spot we could find. We lost both of our cars. My mother-in-law lost hers. | Source
This is how high the water was just before it came into our house.
This is how high the water was just before it came into our house. | Source
This is the other side of my backyard. The water is about 5 feet high in my backyard at this point.
This is the other side of my backyard. The water is about 5 feet high in my backyard at this point. | Source

Have A Plan In Place

*Have plenty of bottled water and gatorade on hand. You will need it.

* Keep canned fruit in the house

* Have a source of protein like tuna or canned chicken

* Have extra batteries

* A generator would be great

*Have a plan in place for your pets, should you need to be rescued.

My House in the Country

Well, if I would have gone to my house in the country, my car would have flooded there. I got six inches of water throughout the entire house. I lost everything in that house. During the demolition of the walls, mold was growing up the inside. It stunk!

Tiles were lifting off of my floor. When I pulled up a tile, water puddles were underneath the tile. We scraped the floor clean and found heart-of-pine hard wood flooring underneath. I thought that was interesting. I also found a lot of old age damage, especially in what was my uncle's bedroom. His floor was completely rotted through. I don't know how the bed had not already fallen through the floor because I did! My foot went right through that floor, and I leaped with my other leg as one of the workers grabbed my hand and pulled me to safety.

I also found rodent stashes in the walls. I found the most interesting things in the wall: children's blocks, marbles, newspapers, forks, knives, a peanut butter jar, a belt, an old letter, and the cover to a ladies magazine from the 1950s. The walls were like a time capsule. I found coffee! That rat took the whole bag and sprinkled it everywhere in the wall. I also found coupons for coffee. I am sure that my grandmother must have thought, "I know that I cut those coupons out and left them right here!"

That house had to be re-wired, re-plumbed, a modad sewer pump put in, and we are still not finished. I have new ceilings. I have an attic fan. I also have a nice attic entrance. We are fixing to put up the insulation and sheetrock. The pictures below are of what that house looked like as we demolished it.

My Little House in The Country

Beadboard ceilings were found underneath the tile.
Beadboard ceilings were found underneath the tile. | Source
This is the coffee bag that I found in the wall.
This is the coffee bag that I found in the wall. | Source
This wall was found underneath paneling.
This wall was found underneath paneling. | Source
This is what the demo looked like.
This is what the demo looked like. | Source
These are real, rough-hewn 2x4s. They don't make them like this anymore.
These are real, rough-hewn 2x4s. They don't make them like this anymore. | Source
Spider webs galore!
Spider webs galore! | Source
This shiplap was found underneath paneling.
This shiplap was found underneath paneling. | Source
This is pic #1 of what the rat drug into the walls.
This is pic #1 of what the rat drug into the walls. | Source
By the looks of it, that rat lived there a long time!
By the looks of it, that rat lived there a long time! | Source

A Tribute to My Brother

My brother, Clay Stilley, rescued over 100 people with his boat. He worked with the Sheriff's department and the Fire Department to save people who were stranded on their roof tops. He also cooked food and delivered it to the church, and the church distributed it to many. He helped gut my house, and he provided food for me and my in-laws when we needed it. He also loaned me a truck to use until I could get a new vehicle of my own.

When the Fire Chief complimented him on his boat and said, "I wished that our department had one like this," Clay had his wife Suzi contact the maker of that boat. The makers of the boat donated a boat to the Albany Fire Department.

My brother made a huge impact on the entire community. Sadly, he died of a heart attack on February 21, 2017.

My Brother, Clay Stilley

This is my brave and daring brother, Clay Hunter Stilley. There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of him and his generous heart.
This is my brave and daring brother, Clay Hunter Stilley. There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of him and his generous heart. | Source

Youtube Video That Shows the Seriousness of This Flood

The Aftermath of the Flood

Fellow Hubbers, before I move into the aftermath, I want you to know that you are allowed to download and use the images in the slide show. Please just give me credit if you use them (Laura Tallo Photography LLC). The download button is turned on, so they are my gift to you.

Now, as far as the aftermath, people gutted their homes and laid the debris in piles on the roadside. You will see that if you watch the slideshow. It took months to clean up that debris. I would deliberately drive north so that I would not have to look at the debris. There was the horrible, stale smell of mold in the air coupled with the smell of sheetrock dust. It was really awful. The video below is one that I took underneath my home. I helped my husband gut the wet insulation.

Not My Best Look

I was working hard under the house gutting insulation.
I was working hard under the house gutting insulation. | Source

Where Are We Now That the Flood is Over?

The debris has been picked up off of the streets. Construction workers are still busy working on people's homes. Some people are still living in temporary housing, and some have had to walk away from it all and simply move.

We are tired. Many of us did not get enough insurance money to put our homes back together because we lived in old houses built in the 1940s. When you demolish parts of your house, you have to get permits. You have to bring your house "up to code," and insurance money doesn't allow for that.

Many people were told that they had to raise their house. That would be financially impossible, for their houses were too big- and they were on a slab.

Forty inches of rain is a lot to absorb in one weekend. However, this was the first time that many of us ever flooded. New subdivisions had been built, water was diverted, sound walls were put up on the interstate which prohibited the flow of water. Lastly, it has been years since our rivers were dredged. These are all important factors that caused the major flooding in Louisiana which began on a Friday, August 11, 2016.

My One Blessing

The Great Flood of 2016 took so much away from me- 2 cars, 2 houses were flooded, and my photography business went down the drain too.

However, it gave me something special, one month with my brother. He had lived in North Dakota, Idaho, and West Virginia working on pipelines. I would hardly get to see him. We were 10 1/2 months apart, so we felt like twins. We would talk on the phone at least once a week to keep in touch with each other. Having him down for a month was a blessing. I got to spend so much time with him before he left this earth. For that, I am thankful!

My house near the river is fine. My house in the country is not. We are still working on putting it back together. I have run out of insurance money, so I fix it from paycheck to paycheck. When it is finished, it will make a nice little rental home.

I hope that this article gave you a clear understanding of what happened during that flood. It was actually the second flood we had that year. The first one was in March and the second in August. While both were devastating, it was the August flood that did the most damage.

Isaiah 43:2 I Claim It!

Source

© 2017 Laura Tallo

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