Tragedy and hope in Louisiana floods

Blue indicates the flooded areas

Blue indicates flooded areas in Baton Rouge

During the past week or so, I’ve been reading about the disastrous floods in south Louisiana, which, according to recent estimates, have left tens of thousands of families homeless and destitute.

Middle-class people, living in places that have never been flooded before, have lose everything and depend for food and shelter on the charity of strangers.

U.S.-declared disaster area

U.S.-declared disaster area

But it is a story not only of disaster, but of hope.  Rod Dreher, a writer for the American Conservative, who lives in that region, tells on his blog how everyone in the community—white, black and Asian, middle-class and poor, Republican and Democrat—have come together to help in the face of the disaster.

Almost everybody in that part of the world owns a boat, and a so-called “Cajun Navy” has rescued many stranded elderly and sick people who otherwise would have lost their lives as well as their property.

The local churches, of many denominations, have been the main organizers of rescue and relief—which is not to say that unbelievers haven’t helped out or that the federal and state governments haven’t done their jobs.

Many people, including Dreher and his wife, have taken strangers into their homes.  Also—

My daughter spent the day at Amite Baptist church preparing meals for people who have no home, while volunteer crews tore out the water-logged carpet and pews.

My boys were part of a crew from their school who have been going out to muck houses of school families who were flooded out. They had to boat in to this one elderly woman’s house (her grandchild goes to the boys’ school) to take out drywall, pull up carpet and floorboards, and suchlike — this, in 91 degree heat, in humidity over 90 percent. While they were there, the elderly lady collapsed with a heat stroke inside the house. My older son called 911, and the crew boated across the water to pick up the paramedics and take them to the house while the others used ice from their coolers to try to keep her alive. They boated her and the paramedics back across the water to the ambulance. The lady made it, thank God, but it was a very close call.

All the boys working on the mucking crew who saved her life learned a valuable lesson today. My boys came home in clothes stinking of sewage water, with aching muscles and stories to tell.

louisiana.flood.eMucking is a dirty job that is necessary to salvage a flooded structure.  It involves getting rid of the filth and mud left by the flood, and everything that is porous, which includes most possessions, and then cleaning up what remains.  Otherwise the building will be destroyed by mildew

And here’s something from the Facebook page of one of Dreher’s friends.


A few observations:

  • This unity and can-do spirit were very different what happened in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The reason?  Maybe because the current disaster affected everyone alike.
  • I shouldn’t have had to depend on a blogger to learn of these events.  Where where the national press and TV network?
  • More extreme weather events are coming as the result of global warming.  We’re  going to be in dire need of this kind of spirit in the future.


Mucker’s Diary by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

‘Please, Please, I Can’t Stay Here No More’ by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

The Face of Louisiana by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

What You Lose, What You Gain by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Sobering Stats: 110,000 homes worth $20B in flood-affected areas in Baton Rouge by Andrea Gallo and Gordon Russell for the Baton Rouge Advocate.


I should have thought to connect with this earlier in the week.  My apology!  Better late than never.

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2 Responses to “Tragedy and hope in Louisiana floods”

  1. williambearcat Says:

    It is the familiar story of the passengers on a sinking ship bonding together.


    • philebersole Says:

      Another familiar story is passengers on a sinking ship fighting each other for seats in the lifeboats and leaving the weak and vulnerable behind.

      It would be good if compassion and public spirit were so common that you could always count on people acting on them. Even if this were the case, these qualities should be honored.


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