The historic Louisiana Flood of 2016, I'm sure that's what it will be known as anyways, rocked the South, and left us all feeling scared for our neighbors. I use neighbors in the sense of Louisiana's close proximity to my town of Brookhaven, MS. We're a short drive away from the Louisiana state line, and it's not uncommon to hear many people around you talk about their family in Louisiana and their frequent trips there. It would be very surprising to hear someone from around here say that they had never been on a trip to Baton Rouge for Blue Bayou or some sort of festival/concert in New Orleans. Louisiana is just as much home to much of south Mississippi as Mississippi is, which is why watching so many friends, families, and "neighbors" lose everything has been so soul crushing.
Rain. So much rain. Evidently, this is what was needed to bring people back together. This is what showed so many of us in the South that we do care if our neighbor lives or dies, whether they be black, white, blue, or red.
We've seen it all before; we remember Katrina. Her mark is still left in many parts of southern Louisiana, but this was much more painful to watch.
You hear the term "flash flood," and usually brush it off. I've gotten that alert on my phone many, many times, and never actually seen any real flooding.
Photo credits to Lizzi Johnson and Faye Anderson of Facebook.
THIS was a flash flood. Unlike Katrina, there was no real time-allowance. By the time people were told to evacuate, they were already surrounded on all sides with floods destroying roads, and so they were left to sit, wait, and watch the water slowly, but surely, rise.
The devastation was shocking. In just a few short days, tens of thousands lost their homes. Over 10,000 were left to seek safety in shelters. Pictures showed abandoned, drowning animals. Babies napping in large plastic totes. Newborn babies being bottle fed wrapped in blankets on a small fishing boat. In the background of these pictures, nothing but a roof of what used to be someone's loving home.
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking things I saw on social media was people commenting addresses and phone numbers of their loved ones, begging someone with a boat to go check on them and see if they and anything they had survived.
Then, all you saw was boats.
Fishing boats, big boats, small boats.
A long, heroic, life-saving line of boats. Not from an organized force that was prepared for this but from volunteers. Everyday people that had no special training in flood relief, or rescuing people from roof tops. These are just regular, ordinary people who saw flood waters, hooked up their boat trailer, and headed south. I'm not talking about 20-30, I'm talking about HUNDREDS of people who went and bought as much food, water, blankets, and supplies as could possibly manage, and said, "They need help. We're on our way."
These people won't be broadcast all over the news as heroes. They won't be paid back for this selfless act. They won't be recognized anywhere other than by God himself and those who choose to share their picture on Facebook, but they are heroes to us all.
If you're friends with anyone from Louisiana, or someone with family there, you've seen many pictures and posts about the rescue missions for people and pets, and with every story I see, my faith in humanity is slowly restored. You don't see "Black man saving white man," or "White man saving black family," in the headlines to draw attention to any certain race or group. Instead, the posts are focused on the amazing character shown in the people of Louisiana as a whole, and you see "Neighbors saving friends," and, "Kind men and women showing love to their friends and neighbors."
For the first time in what felt like a long time, color didn't matter. Color wasn't seen or mentioned or even important. Regardless if a person was black, white, gay, straight, Christian, druggy, elderly or young, people were there to help them, to rescue them, and to show them love and care.
For the first time in forever, a group of people have come together to support, encourage and help each other, no matter what color they are, lifestyle they choose, addictions, religions, or movements they support. For the first time in forever, I have seen hope in humanity. Hope that my future children may see friendships of all colors and kinds. Hope that America can overcome this awful hatred that is blowing across every form of media.
Louisiana has a long, hard road ahead of heartbreak and recovery, but Louisiana, you are not alone.
We will help you all stay #LouisianaStrong.