NO.stormnews.0711190773 copy.JPG

Jefferson Ave. near South Claiborne is covered in water several hours after the storm passed in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

Sherrie Mack is one of a group of people cautiously watching news updates, unsure how seriously to take the likely onslaught of a weather system that if it intensifies, will be called Hurricane Barry.

Mack, of Port Vincent, is still living in a FEMA trailer on the property that once housed her husband’s childhood home. They lost it all in 2016, their belongings still in a storage unit in Walker that Mack called to get last-minute insurance on Wednesday.

She and many others in Livingston Parish – the area hardest hit by 2016's catastrophic flooding – took to social media Wednesday expressing the need to be prepared and cautious, but not to panic.

Many were skeptical about the storm’s path so far out from the projected Saturday landfall east of Lake Charles, while others made plans to evacuate to higher ground by week’s end.

“2016 changed a lot of people, it really did,” she said. “After 2016, we’re pretty much ready for anything.”

Officials have said the Baton Rouge area will likely see 6 to 10 inches of rain dumping down over the next few days. It comes along with historic Mississippi River levels and a spring and summer of heavy rains.

Most recently, June 6 saw a deluge that overburdened the region’s drainage culverts and waterways, leading to flooded streets, homes and one fatality.

Port Allen resident Trent Simpson said the home he’s lived in the last nine years fared fine during 2016, but on June 6 his street took on inches of water that lapped inside his front door.

“Basically it was like my house was in the middle of a lake, it was complete water surrounding the entire street,” he said. “My neighbor’s on 9-inch piers and he was about an inch from getting it in his house.”

The city has been sending out crews to clear the drainage system for weeks, but Simpson believes the problem is in an overworked system that needs replacing. He said he has flood insurance and has done some minimal preparation before this weekend’s storm, but based on the June 6 rainfall, there’s not much to do but sit and wait.

“There’s not really much sandbagging I could do because I’d have to sandbag the entire house,” he said.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Parish and city governments in the region have been stockpiling schools and fire stations with sandbagging equipment, encouraging residents to be prepared for the storm's landfall, which is expected Saturday.

For many who lived through the 2016 flood, they know what to do, but it’s a matter of being exhausted with the process.

Albany resident Sean Lutsch presented to the town hall Monday night asking what was being done about ongoing drainage issues that leave his and many other homes flooded in heavy rains.

He flooded in 2016, and said this time he’s preparing important documents and go-bags if needed, but won’t be sandbagging.

“At this point, I am beyond hoping we don’t flood and am just expecting the next good rain to cause us to flood,” he said.

Denham Springs woman Gayle Causey was anxious Wednesday. She left her Denham Springs home in 2016 on an inflatable air mattress that neighbors floated across a flooded parking lot, and spent the next two years hopping from city to city as she tried to get home to her apartment.

She finally did so in February, and is again seeing grim forecasts.

"It makes me so nervous I can hardly stand it," she said Wednesday. Causey said in the last bout of heavy rainfall in June she panicked when she saw water coming up along her parking lot. She threw the dogs in a suitcase, got in the car and left town for a few days.

"Right now what I'm doing is I've been taking pictures and putting them on the top shelves," she said. "There's nothing you can do about furniture, but keepsakes I'm putting them where no matter how high the water gets it won't touch them."

Officials have said that forecasts and tracks should become more clear over the next 48 hours, but that Louisiana residents should prepare their homes and belongings. Many are not yet worried but for some, like Causey who lost everything in 2016, even the threat triggers anxiety.

The one benefit of having lived through the August 2016 flood, at least to Causey, is that she knows what's important, how to pack a bag quickly, and how to keep watch on the weather.

"I'll be ready to go, bags packed," she said. "That's the lesson learned from the flood, you cannot wait until you can't get out, you just leave and leave the rest of it to God."

Email Emma Kennedy at

Hurricane Ida Text Message Updates for Baton Rouge: Sign up for free

Standard message and data rates apply.