I always thought the label “The Great Flood” was odd for what so many of us went through. In most instances, the word great means excellent or above average. In this case, it meant widespread devastation. I suppose it was the national media who eventually came up with the name, needing something to reference when they finally took notice that tens of thousands of people were being washed out of their homes. Thirteen people lost their lives. Hundreds of animals drowned. And here we are two years later, still wondering how it happened.
When I woke up at 4 a.m. with almost a foot of water already in the house, we tried to put things up high, grabbed the baby, the dog, and waded out to higher ground. We had no idea that we’d get six feet of water, or that we’d lose everything that wasn’t in the attic (yay for saving Christmas decorations). We had no idea that both cars would be destroyed. Those are things that don’t occur to you until days later, when you’re dry, living in someone else’s home with only their support and the diaper bag you escaped with.
So how are we—as a community— doing now? I’d say we’re more confident in humanity. We have faith in each other and our community, far and wide. We’ve learned that human decency wins out over racism or any other stereotype.
Have we recovered? I guess it depends on your definition of recovery. Most of us have replaced necessary material items, secured a safe place to live, and are thankful in our new lives. We’ve discovered the ability to not live in the past and to cherish safe environments and our friends and families. As for myself, I still get nervous after a few days of continuous rain, and there are “grab and go” bags packed in each closet of my new home. Whether that is paranoid or recovered, I don’t know.
Amy Braymer & Jennifer Bravinder
“You don’t realize how many things live below 24 inches in your home. We lost so many invaluable things, photos, yearbooks, cookbooks with Jennifer’s moms writing in them. To this day when we are looking for something and can’t find it we always ask each other, “Was that something we lost in the flood?” We both get a little nervous when we have rain in the forecast for several days in a row.
Two years have passed by and the flood has forever changed our lives. Even today tears are flooding our eyes as we recollect those days. We have a greater understanding of community, the concept of volunteering, witnessed an outpouring of love from family, friends, colleagues and strangers. There is no way to repay, or words to express thankfulness, to all those that came to our rescue, provided support and continue to be there for us.”
“I live alone, in my home I’ve had since 2007. After the flood, I moved back into my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house in East Feliciana Parish (a small town called Ethel, to be more specific). I lived there from August 2016 until October 2017. With 9 failed attempts at securing a contractor, my mortgage company finally gave me permission to do the work myself, and by myself, I mean, all the work being done by my father. He made it his mission to give me my home back! I am forever grateful for his tireless efforts and hard work he put into restoring my house so that I could call it a home again.
Today I would say my home is 98% complete on the interior. There are a few pieces of trim and a couple light switch covers that need to be installed, but overall it’s better than ever! The next phase is to work on the exterior of my house, which I hope to have completed by the end of this year.”
“It is what it is. I have said this since the day water took over our home and stayed in the house for about 3 1/2 days—almost 3 1/2 feet of water. Damage was horrible. Retirement is gone, savings is not what it was. We had it bad, BUT there are so many more that had it worse. We are back in our home. There are still people not in their homes. Most of our entire families were affected. Support of friends, family and prayers got us through the horrible situation. We are LA STRONG.”
“You quickly learn things that one may only learn in a flood: One slightly-damp book will destroy all books it came in contact with. Pewter, stoneware, plastic, and rubber all must be tossed, only glassware and stainless-steel can be salvaged as they are not porous. You learn that bleach is not appropriate for mucking a house and does very little to get into the cracks and crevices of porous objects, that mold certificates aren’t a thing, and perhaps most importantly: that usually people who say possessions are replaceable, still have theirs.”
Photos by Sean Gasser