As I write this post, it has been a month since southeast Louisiana experienced unprecedented flooding. While progress has been made in cleaning out flooded homes and businesses, clean up has been tortuously slow and rebuilding has been frustrated by government red tape. As the nation’s attention has moved on to other things, the citizens in Louisiana are still trying to grapple with a new reality.
My name is Danny McDonald, and I am a native of Denham Springs, LA now living in Louisville. The August floods in my home state have impacted me deeply. So deeply, in fact, that I want to help keep at the forefront of our minds what my family, friends, and fellow Louisianans are going through. Hence, the purpose of this site. “The Storm Without a Name” is devoted to serve as an oral history of the Louisiana Flood of 2016. This is a place where flood victims, disaster relief workers, etc. can share their stories of their experience. It is my goal that this site serves as a repository of sorts of first-hand accounts of the flood and its aftermath. It is a site devoted to the human element of an event that will soon be overshadowed by bureaucracy and forgotten by the passage of time. Below is part of my story of the storm without a name.
Hopeless. This is a word I used describe my feelings on Saturday, August 13 – the day in which my hometown in Louisiana experienced unprecedented flooding. Family and friends were forced out of their homes, while many had to be rescued from their homes as water rose quickly to heights never seen before. By the time the weekend was over, much of south-central and southeastern Louisiana was under water.
Resilient. Determined. Community. These three words describe how Louisianans have approached their new reality. My wife and I spent this past weekend in Baton Rouge helping my parents gut their home (13 inches) and in Denham Springs helping a dear friend and his family gut their home (7 feet). One thing that stood out to me was how everyone – literally everyone – that we came across was <i>not</i> despondent. Rather, they were ready to begin the cleanout and rebuilding processes. There was nothing they could do about the flood – it happened. But what they could do – and did with such energy – was to pick up where the flood left off. It was amazing – Louisianans did not sit around waiting for the government’s help or for the media to arrive for national attention. Instead, they strapped up their boots and got to work.
Even more amazing is the strong sense of community, particularly in an area that recently witnessed the Alton Sterling tragedy and the subsequent ambush of Baton Rouge cops. There have been stories of African Americans helping whites, and whites helping African Americans. My hometown pastor wrote of how he, along with others, were stranded on I-12 for 30 hours. Instead of stranded drivers remaining isolated in their vehicles and stewing in their frustration, a trucker cooked rice and shared with neighboring cars, a Hispanic family shared their snacks, and a woman handed out fresh produce that she had. Another man set up his grills, someone else provided steak and pork for a meal. In reflecting upon this scene, my pastor states: “Stranded travelers of different colors, cultures, jobs and backgrounds became a community in the middle of the interstate who cared for each other with much kindness. Never did I hear aggravation, frustration or foul language.” This story is just one of many that illustrate the overall sense of cooperation and community among the residents of Louisiana impacted by the flood. And yet, little has been said to this end by the national media.
As Louisianans jumped into the cleaning out process, the nation’s citizens moved quickly to donate cleaning supplies, food, clothing, and other necessities that impacted families lost in the deluge. It was amazing to see the outpouring of support by individuals, churches, and organizations. The Red Cross was indeed a presence in flood-impacted areas, but so were the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams from surrounding states, assisting Southern Baptist members <i>and</i> the community with cleaning out and mudding out homes, and with spraying for mold (all free!). Area churches and companies were mobilized as donation centers and shelters, while high schools across the state trucked in supplies to flooded schools. In a time of great need, Louisiana’s citizens were met by fellow countrymen ready to lend a hand.
See this great article by Foundation for Economic Education on the role of private disaster relief in Louisiana: In Louisiana, Private Disaster Relief Outperforms the Government
A helpful article on the response of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team.
The video below, shot by my wife, illustrates the outpouring of donations. This donation center is set up at New Covenant Church in Denham Springs (www.newcovenantds.com):
Soon, however, the nation’s attention will naturally move away from Louisiana to other events. Indeed, our nation’s collective attention remains on certain events for only a short time – it’s only natural. But, for those who were impacted (directly or indirectly) by the recent floods in southeastern Louisiana, their attention will remain fixed upon their situation until recovery is complete – a process that will take a long time. It would behoove us – as a nation – to keep the flood victims of Louisiana in our mind.