Thousands have evacuated submerged residences and more than 11,000 have already registered for disaster relief as a result of the most recent wave of flooding in southern Louisiana.
Among those rescued was an 86-year-old woman, who climbed to her attic when the flood waters started to rise. Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies had to rescue the woman by hacking through her roof with axes.
“I could barely hear her through the roof,” said Cpl. Frank Edmondson. “Working with East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputies, we busted a hole in the roof and e-vacked her out of there.”
CPSO deputies hack through a roof to rescue an 86-year-old woman from flood waters (Photo: Courtesy of CPSO)
On Friday, Aug. 12, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Louisiana. Since then, more than 4,700 people have relocated to emergency shelters around the state, according to the American Red Cross.
Over the weekend, northwestern Louisiana residents began organizing relief efforts to deliver supplies and manpower to the areas impacted by the flooding
The United Way of southern Louisiana reports damage stretching from Vermillion to east of Livingston Parish, with state offices closing in 27 parishes as of Monday.
“Just several months ago, our region was flooded. Now, they are hurting again,” said Michael Williams, CEO of United Way of Southeast Louisiana. “Families who are still trying to rebuild are now at risk. Our residents are resilient, but they need help to recover.”
The recent flooding has caused the Red Cross’s largest sheltering effort in Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac, said Brad Kieserman— vice president of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross.
Flooding in south Louisiana (Photo: Courtesy of CPSO)
“This is an extremely chaotic situation right now, with life-threatening flood waters, power outages and road closures complicating relief efforts,” Kieserman said. “Entire families have lost their homes and everything they own to the flood.”
Flooding is expected to continue for several days, and multiple groups— from law enforcement to churches to legislators— have flood relief efforts underway.
Local deputies dispatched to aid rescue and recovery
Bossier Parish Sheriff’s office sent a total of eight deputies with two rescue teams to Iberia Parish and Baton Rouge to help with rescue missions. The new crew, titled the Bossier Parish Water and Technical Emergency Rescue (WATER) task force includes deputies with the sheriff’s office and state-wide fire stations who are specially trained in swift water rescues and equipment— such as specialized life vests, ropes and rigging gear as well as a specialized Zodiac boat and a flat bottom rescue boat.
BPSO Sheriff Julian Whittington said the new team will bring another level of flood rescue operations to handle “just about any situation that may arise.”
“We’ve seen how treacherous flood waters can be, and we want to be able to help everyone in danger,” Whittington said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the first responders in southern Louisiana and the residents who are going through this devastating ordeal.”
A Bossier Parish deputy helps evacuate a child from a flooded home (Photo: Courtesy of BPSO)
Altogether, the team has evacuated between 400 and 500 individuals through 10 separate missions since Friday, said spokesman Bill Davis. Davis said the worst hit areas included Norris Road in Iberia parish and Walker and Denham Springs areas in Baton Rouge.
The first rescue team consisted of six deputies from the BPSO Marine Patrol, who were dispatched early Friday afternoon to Iberia Parish and later relocated to Baton Rouge. The second rescue team included two BPSO deputies and four Benton firefighters.
“We stand ready to respond to local emergencies with local crews and gear should the need arise,” said Benton Fire Chief J.T. Wallace.
Crews from South Bossier Fire District #2 in south Bossier Parish deployed Saturday afternoon to south Louisiana to assist in the flood rescues there. Fire Chief Kenny Tyson says the crew was requested by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal to deploy to the Emergency Operation Center in Baton Rouge for their assignments. (Photo: Courtesy of BPSO)
Davis said a replacement team of seven deputies will be sent Monday to relieve the eight deputies currently on duty.
The Shreveport-Bossier Fire District 2 and Bienville Fire Districts 4 and 5 also evacuated from a nursing home 83 patients— including 47 confined to beds or wheelchairs— and 20 staff members on Saturday night.
RELATED: How to help in Shreveport-Bossier
Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office also responded by sending three deputies with the CPSO Marine Patrol Unit on Friday, along with three flat-bottomed boats and a Hovercraft—an air-cushion vehicle used in disaster relief and passenger transport, according to spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick.
Caddo Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Cecil Windham, Lt. Donna Jackson, and Cpl. Frank Edmondson transport a Baton Rouge resident to safety after successfully evacuating her from her home. (Photo: Courtesy of CPSO)
Chadwick said the office also responded to a request by the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to provide additional relief on Sunday. They dispatched an additional six deputies and four flat-bottomed boats, which are preferred rescue means for the disabled and elderly.
All deputies were part of the CPSO Marinue Unit or the CPSO Dive Team’s Search and Rescue, and three members had been certified in the past few weeks in swift water rescue and training. Chadwick said all CPSO deputies had been assigned to East Baton Rouge Parish and had rescued more than 200 individuals and their animals since Friday.
Chadwick said CPSO deputies mainly worked nights and helped in the areas near O’neal, the I-12 overpass, Millerville Road, South Harrell’s Ferry Road, Ponderosa neighborhood and Lakeview subdivision. Monday’s efforts took deputies to Big Bend Avenue and North Sherwood Forest Drive.
“We are responding to general calls for service, both flood related and non-flood related,” Chadwick said.
Rescue efforts in Southern Louisiana (Photo: Courtesy of CPSO)
Two officers from the Shreveport Police Department dispatched to Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon as well.
Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler said the City of Shreveport is praying for those in southern Louisiana who have lost their homes, as well as all of the first responders who are “working night and day to keep them safe.”
“I am proud of our officers and their selfless commitment to serve not only the citizens of Shreveport, but our neighbors in south Louisiana who have been so devastated by this catastrophic flood event,” Tyler said.
Local agencies collecting flood relief donations
The National Guard is providing water to those stranded. Meanwhile, dozens of schools and churches have started collections to send to flood victims and are particularly in need of diapers, baby formula, feminine hygiene products and blankets.
Members of the public can help by dropping off needed items at various locations throughout the state.
Flood rescue efforts by Caddo Parish deputies. (Photo: Courtesy of CPSO)
Bossier Parish School spokeswoman Sonja Bailes said the school district has several collection sites, including Elm Grove Middle School, Kerr Elementary, Benton High and Airline. Benton High is also planning several fundraisers, including a jeans day and Thursday night’s Tiger Pride Night at the stadium, Bailes said.
Collection efforts are also underway at Caddo Parish schools. Spokeswoman Mary Nash-Wood said Westwood Elementary School is collecting canned food during regular school hours. South Highlands is also collecting money during school hours to buy school supplies in bulk for schools in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
Southwood High School is accepting donations for flood victims. Southwood will be delivering the donations to various shelters in the Baton Rouge area on Thursday.
The Joy Walters Foundation sent a truck full of supplies down south and has plans in place to send another soon. Collection efforts include drop offs at Calvary Baptist Church, Strawn’s Eatery, Red River Brewing and Zocolo’s.
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Sen. Ryan Gatti has reached out to other senators and legislators about collection efforts and is requesting donations of schools supplies to be brought to his office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gatti hopes to deliver the supplies to southern Louisiana schools on Thursday.
“We’ve had a good response from our community in terms of donations,” said Gatti’s Legislative Assistant Robin Fletcher.
Flooding in south Louisiana (Photo: Courtesy of BPSO)
Several collections started with Shreveport natives John and Amanda Hayes Kay— a couple stalled in Shreveport on their way home to their residence in Livingston Parish, which was hard-hit by the flooding.
"We can't get back to our house, so we're helping," John Kay said. "Our house has between 6 and 10 feet of water in it. And my truck is in the garage."
Ronnie Remedies, owner of Shreveport Limousine and vice chair of the Metropolitan Planning Committee, said he has donated his pickup, an enclosed 22-foot trailer, fuel and a driver to haul donated items.
Remedies said that flood victims can't get to their homes to retrieve belongings, and that many stores in the area have sold out of needed items.
A weather update for our area
No flood watches are currently in effect for the Shreveport-Bossier area, said National Weather Service meteorologist Davyon Hill.
Hill estimated the area would receive roughly one to three inches of rain over the next few days, with a 50 to 60 percent chance of rain through Thursday and a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain throughout the weekend. The rain originates from east Texas and a counterboundary— a cold front trying to move through the area that was stalled along Texarkana.
Hill said recent flooding in southern Louisiana was caused by an upper level load system around the southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi borders but has been exacerbated by recent showers.
Those interested in receiving emergency alerts, shelter locations and information about flooding can download a free Red Cross Emergency App at redcross.org/apps. The App includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay.