More than 100 people were removed from their homes by boat Saturday after the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office ordered a mandatory evacuation of much of the Audubon Terrace subdivision off Siegen Lane, near St. George Catholic Church.
Homes along two streets at the back of the subdivision, Mint and Buttercup, were particularly hard hit as Ward Creek overflowed its banks and sent water flooding into many of them.
The St. George Fire Department coordinated the evacuation effort, aided by neighbors and volunteers who used own boats and canoes to get residents to dry ground. Friends and family came to pick up those affected.
Jessica Golden Cooper and her husband, Keith, had been brought out by boat with their three dogs and a cat, Jessica said, standing on the carport of a neighbor's home located on high ground.
Torrential rains have caused flooding across the Baton Rouge area.
The streets in the neighborhood were flooded yesterday but her husband was able to get home from work at about 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jessica said.
"Last night, it was looking better" and it seemed the water was receding, she said.
"This morning we woke up and it was all the way up to the door."
She said a sheriff's deputy came by about 7 a.m. and told the couple about the mandatory evacuation.
The couple grabbed dog food and cat food -- "they have their own suitcase," Jessica Cooper said -- and clothes and medicine.
She said water was a few inches from the flood when they left.
"We really want to say thank you to all the volunteers who came out,” Jessica Cooper said. “The neighbors have been awesome."
She said flood insurance is required for homeowners in the subdivision.
Dricilla Broussard of Prairieville had spent Friday night with her elderly parents, Hubert and Emma Depland, at their home in St. George subdivision. On Saturday morning, the three had been taken out of the home by boat and Broussard was shepherding them to a waiting car to leave the neighborhood.
"They're Katrina victims," Broussard said sadly of her parents. "They lost everything."
"I don't think it will be quite as bad" this time, she added.
The evacuation finished up at about 10:30 a.m.
"As many people as want to have been evacuated out," said James Newman, St. George Fire Department district fire chief. "There are still some people who want to hold out."
"We had lots of volunteers, lots of good Samaritans" helping with the evacuation, Newman said.
Robert Hall and his wife Patricia Oliver, whose carport many of those rescued took shelter under while they waited for rides, have lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.
"I've never seen it like this," Hall said. "I feel for my neighbors."
Trenton Allen had left the neighborhood with his family Friday night, before the call for an evacuation, but returned with his canoe to rescue several residents after he got calls early Saturday morning about conditions in the subdivision.
"I basically went door to door" working with the Fire Department, Allen said.
Bill Gibson, the St. George homeowners association president, said the subdivision had seen high water in 2001 with Hurricane Allison, but "not to this point."
"This is about 6 inches higher than what it was in Allison," Gibson said.
Flash flooding devastated the Baton Rouge area over the weekend.
Others living in south Baton Rouge said they don't recall seeing water this high in their neighborhoods since Hurricane Betsy back in 1965.
Kimberly Kamal, 29, on Thomas Delpit Drive said in her whole life she’s never seen water like she's seeing in their neighborhood but said her mother remembers having to be rescued from the house by boat during flooding from Hurricane Betsy.
The flooding started Friday night and by Saturday, people were being walked or pushed in vehicles out of the flood waters while neighbors pulled together to help.
Watching the water just feet away from her car, Kamal said, “we need to think do we need to make arrangements to leave or not.”
John McClendon, who said he lives off of Siegen Lane, was among the good Samaritans and volunteers helping people out in the south Baton Rouge neighborhood. He drove his four-wheeler out of the water pushing another four-wheeler that had stalled when its driver Karisa Jones of Tennessee Street was trying to leave.
“I came out to help out as much as I can,” McClendon said.
Jones said “he came to help, and I appreciate it,” as McClendon reattached her four-wheeler’s chain and drained some water out of the machine before they were on their way.
Standing with other neighbors outside a nearby store, Richard Hamilton Jr., 26, said he helped his dad get out of their flooded house and found a dry home for his dog and her puppy, but wasn’t sure where he was going to stay now.
“It’s in every room. It just started coming through the front door,” Hamilton said. Although the water was draining at first, eventually the water started rising and just kept going.