My grandson, Michael, middle; my son, Andre, on the right.
i n-law, Ann.
The New Orleans firemen who rescued us from our flooded neighborhood.
This is the email which I sent to my Covenant Community [also posted on facebook] on Saturday night, August 13, the night before we were evacuated:
“Dear ones, Although by a small chance we may escape without the flood waters coming into our home, the flooding is quite severe in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas–nearly 1/4 of the state, I would guess. The street in front of my house is full of water; the side street is full with about 4 feet entering my driveway. The five adults in my house have packed our bags, because we may have to call 911 for emergency evacuation in the morning. If it rains tomorrow morning, the water will probably come into the house.
I have put all in His hands: to suffer all with Him, no longer two but one.
Whatever happens, we will return home and do the best we can to make it habitable again, if we have to leave. I do not have flood insurance. I pray that His beloved Will be done. My family has suffered through illness, evictions, unemployment, etc; so I especially regret this additional hardship. But we will stay together and work this out together. Pray for us.
I’m not sure when you will hear from me again because I just don’t know what will happen.
One Heart, One Mind, One Will,
P.S.You will love the quotation from my little Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity for today–what a confirmation!
O Good Master, what a trial You put me through, what a sword thrust into my heart, never will I be consoled! And despite all that, I give You thanks. I bless You. You have used this horrible trial to detach me from the things here-below and attach me more totally to You, to You alone, my Love, my Life, my Spouse. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880–1906)
Living Faith Christian Center on Winbourne Ave, very close to my home, was flooded by the same canal that flooded my home.
NARRATIVE OF THE FLOOD: I slept about an hour on Saturday night, August 13, spent much time trying to figure out how to elevate at least some of the furniture—the sofas and all upholstered pieces. At 3:00 in the morning, my grandson was still awake, so together we elevated the two big recliners in the family room. About 4:30 am, Andre, my son, and daughter-in-law helped me elevate other pieces, balancing sofas on small tables, etc. After closing the drain, we placed the little dinette set, table and 4 chairs, all the sofa cushions and bedding, into our huge acrylic tub in the bathroom, knowing that the water would have to top three feet to reach inside.
I had had a powwow with the family the night before, as we watched the water advancing up our street. I advised all of them to pack a bag for a few days because we might have to ask for evacuation the next morning. Then I blessed all three entrances with Lourdes water, praying: “Lord, don’t let anything enter this house which is not Your Will.” During the night my son and I kept going to the back door by the carport to watch the progress of the water. By six a.m. about 3 inches of water had come into the back of the house: family room, my bedroom, and office, but had not yet entered the kitchen and oldest part of the house. Ready to leave at 6am, I locked the house, leaving on the carport light and we sat on the big storage unit on the carport. Airboats called in from Plaquemines Parish had been traveling up and down Winbourne Ave.—now badly flooded [some cars completely submerged]. Now one passed us, we called out that we were ready to evacuate, and he told us he had to go the back of our subdivision which was badly flooded, but that he would back soon. We waited 2 hours. Finally a schoolbus came to the corner from the interior of our subdivision, and the five of us boarded with other neighbors and our two dogs, and were ferried to high ground at the corner of another flooded street to wait for one of three boats to carry us out of the subdivision. The bus continued to go back into the neighborhood for more evacuees; and as the line grew, we waited for another 2 hours to get into our little boat with the help of the New Orleans Fire Department.
I must tell you that throughout these most stressful hours, I heard no cursing, but only prayer, acceptance, praise and thanksgiving expressed by so many people. As we waited for the boat, at least a hundred people standing in line, one of our neighbors who live on that corner, with whom I have talked many times as I walked my dog, hugged me, talked with me then, insisting that “God is cleansing Louisiana”; we recognized this vital element of the real Storm. She then called out to all the people waiting, so many of our neighbors: “Will you pray with me? Let’s thank and praise God for his protection. “ And many joined her. The others stood silently, respectful. At the shelter, one woman told me that at least 4 feet of water had entered her home, she had no flood insurance, but she was utterly serene, trusting that God would make a way for her. This was evidenced EVERYWHERE!
At 11:00 am on Sunday morning, August 14, we were deposited on dry ground, were given bottled water, and walked to a Texaco station/store to purchase snacks, and where we tried to get information about getting to a shelter. The sun was brutal by then, but we sat on the curb in the shade at the store. Finally, I decided to call 911 again, was referred to another dispatcher who placed an order for our extraction to a shelter. We got on another school bus, and by 3:00 pm or so arrived to Celtic Studios. The large Stage buildings were being quickly fitted into shelters. [I heard on the news that 2500 people are there now.] We registered for Stage 4, the one set up for pets. Hot jambalaya was waiting for us—the last hot food we would see till we reached my cousin Billy’s house—and we found a place to settle, selecting varied pillows and blankets from the table so supplied. Abundant pet supplies were available as well, tons of water, snacks, etc, all supplied by Costco next door.
Unfortunately, the air was not working, but supplementary blowers were brought in that evening. We were severely dehydrated by that time and drank continuously. This building was so noisy with huge fans running, constant barking, and helicopters—staged next door—taking off and landing constantly.
One failure which had a major negative impact on so many stranded people— was that a substation of ATT&T, a major phone server in our area, had flooded, and for several days [through Tuesday and maybe longer], the only calls that ATT&T put through were 911 calls. We could not call for help from relatives or friends, but were forced to go to shelters.
By Monday, August 15 in the shelter, with heat and humidity in the shelter were so oppressive, my cousin, Gigi, transferred to the medical shelter next door because she was having trouble breathing and was overheating. By then she had managed to reach our cousin, Billy Hebert, who offered all five of us, with our dogs, to stay at his homane. He came to pick us up around noon on Monday. At Billy’s, I was able to register for FEMA assistance. At that time I had no idea how extensive the damage to my home would be, and like so many others, I had no flood insurance. It was scary. We kept hearing that the water was still rising, it was raining still, and we could only imagine how high the water might be in the house with the entire neighborhood flooded out.
On Tuesday afternoon, August 16, Billy drove my son Andre and another friend [also flooded out] to our homes to see if we could gain entrance. We were delighted to learn that the water had drained from our home and street, and that it had risen only a couple more inches after we left. Billy’s friend, Daniel, found that the water had reached midway his front door, but they did not enter the houses because they didn’t have the house keys with them. Coming back tell us the good and bad news, they hydrated, we ate lunch, and we prepared to come home to clean up.
We returned to the house, taking many pictures for FEMA, discovered that much of the front of the house: bathroom, Gigi’s bedroom and the bedroom, were DRY! The living room and dining room with hardwood floors, had a little water which had quickly receded. Kitchen floor was buckling, the plywood swollen—the entire floor including substrata will have to be replaced. My walk in closet with carpet, was soaked, of course. But all the furniture seems fine! Even the wooden pieces will probably be fine because the water did not stand too long. We were able to remove the soaked carpet, sweep, mop, get the furniture in place and make the place habitable. All appliances were fine, running; and great news—all three automobiles were great—no water entered, and all started without a hitch. How grateful we were! How we thanked God for saving us from so much heartache and hardship.
Today we have to continue the cleanup, remove the kitchen floor, especially, and maybe the family room. How blessed we are to have a home to return to, to be able to live normally again in so short a time—others will face such difficulties and decisions for weeks and months to come.
It’s been one week since I have had the opportunity to go to Adoration or Mass; all has been so chaotic, noisy, and busy, that I have had to keep to the simplest prayers, having a hard time even to pray the rosary. But I know that my spirit will soon settle down–it’s just that so much remains to be done, paperwork, repair work, etc. I and my family are so very blessed to be back into our home so quickly. The Storm is truly upon all of us, and only God knows what it will bring. What we must do is TRUST, TRUST, TRUST.