Catastrophic flood drenches LA

Christopher Walker, Editor-in-Chief

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On Friday, Aug. 12, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared Louisiana to be in a state of emergency. Described by scientists as the kind of flood that comes once every thousand years, 60,000 homes were damaged, 20,000 people rescued and 13 Louisianians dead made this one of the worst floods in the state’s history.

Smaller towns in central Louisiana surrounded by rivers were overrun with floodwaters. Hally Lambert, a 22-year-old graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, currently lives with her parents in Gonzalez.

She described her experience, “We had no idea the rain was going to be this bad. We live in a flood zone by the Amite River, but our house is three and a half feet off the ground, and we thought we were prepared for flooding. Water comes up to the front lawn occasionally, but it’s never even gotten to our porch. This time was different.”

Once the storm had subsided, her family assessed the damage. “We got a foot of water in the house.” Hally’s home was built on a wooden foundation, which is extremely susceptible to water damage. A foot of water is devastating for the structure. “The floors are done for; half the walls had to be torn down; all of our furniture, faucets, beds, clothes are destroyed. The foundation of my house was underwater for five days. There’s no way to repair it; it has to be replaced.”

“Going forward, I don’t know if there was any way to prepare for this, or if there’s anything locals can do going forward that will prevent this from happening again other than relocating.”

Though Gonzalez suffered damage, residents of Denham Springs were hit hardest. Over 90 percent of houses in the area suffered water damage; many houses got over four feet of water.

Joyce Kahl is a University of New Orleans student whose family resides in Denham Springs. “Everybody I know has water damage to their home in Denham Springs. My uncle’s entire house was underwater up to the roof.”

If a house gets even a few inches of water inside, the drywall needs to be ripped out, the insulation thrown away, and floors need to be replaced. It’s a headache for those with flood insurance, and a life-altering catastrophe for those without. “So many people didn’t have flood insurance because they’re not in a flood zone, and now they’re left with nothing,” said Lambert. “Everyone I know from my childhood lost their house. It’s devastating. But you have to stay strong for your family. It’s hard for everybody. We had to clean out our house today. It’s just something you never expect to do.”

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Hally and Joyce’s story is similar to the thousands of others who were not only affected, but devastated by the historic flooding. Many Louisiana residents were baffled when the media initially paid little attention to the story. “I think it’s important that the rest of the United States knows that Louisiana is going to need help. So many people lost everything,” Lambert said.

Donald Trump came down to Louisiana this past week to help in person, distributing water and supplies while Hillary Clinton urged her supporters to donate to the Red Cross and a Baton Rouge charity. Edwards encouraged those across the nation who wanted to help to do so through donating to local charities as well. Flooding 2

“Everyone in Denham Springs really banded together and helped each other out,” said Kahl. “Everyone that could lend a hand did. It shows what a strong community we have. I’m proud of my city.”
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