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Report from Louisiana: Eye to the Sky

August 29th, 2016 | 3 Comments

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I talked to a friend this week who just returned to Shreveport from Baton Rouge where he has been helping his son who was flooded this month.

“You can’t imagine the stench down there,” he told me.   There are unending piles of debris lining the streets in neighborhoods now as people begin to gut their houses and work to see what can be saved.

“My son called me when the water started rising,” he said.  “Dad, it’s coming up into the yard.” And then later he called, “Dad, the water is 6-inches into the garage now.”  They moved things to higher levels but by the next morning it was too late to get out.

They called for help and the boats showed up.  The only thing they took with them were their cats, stuffed into pillow cases with their heads poking out.  They lost everything, including two cars.

I talked to another friend with The Cajun Navy who told me about rescuing an eighty-year old couple; they’ve lost everything.  Eighty-years old – how are you going to start all over at eighty?

There has been one horrible story after another.

And now, the water is gone but the debris pickers have moved in.  The dumpster divers are trolling neighborhoods digging through people’s debris piles and taking things they want to try to salvage.  The problem with that is that the insurance adjustors have to come check those piles first.  You can’t make a claim for a lost washer and dryer if it isn’t there.  You can take pictures, and that’s always advisable, but most people don’t want their life’s possessions pillaged while they’re trying to salvage what they can.

As if there was not enough to worry about, Louisiana now has wary eyes cast to the Gulf of Mexico where another tropical depression is forming.  There may not be a soul in the state who isn’t praying for the collapse of that system.

The last thing we need right now is more rain.

Meanwhile, The Cajun Navy is stronger than ever and has been busy gutting houses and delivering supplies.

There has been a lot of grumbling about The Red Cross and while I can’t speak from personal experience, I’ve seen pictures of the scanty meals they are doling out, compared with the hefty red beans, rice and sausage plates other services are giving out!  I can’t fault the Red Cross too much for that – not many people can cook good Louisiana cookin’ like a native.

I do have concerns about one anecdote I heard about local legend Clay Higgins who stopped by a Red Cross shelter and who was praying with an evacuee.  A shelter official stopped him because not everyone in the facility may have been Christian and it might have been offensive to people.  That bothers me.

There was a viral post on Facebook about the Red Cross throwing away donated food and clothes which has been proven partly inaccurate.  The Red Cross wants only your money or your time.  They don’t want to sort through clothes and they don’t want to fool with food.  Because of their poor reputation in that regard, most people I know are donating to Samaritan’s Purse or other faith-based organizations.

All in all, we are rebuilding, recovering, and regrouping.  I’m in northwest Louisiana and we are dry, but just like our friends to the south, we are anxiously watching the sky this week – pray for blue skies.

#LouisianaStrong

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

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