When she went to bed Saturday night, water was pooling in the street in front of Leigh Beoubay’s home off O’Neal Lane.
By early Sunday morning, the water was in her family’s home, rising quickly past their ankles, above their knees and eventually reaching 4 feet as they waited without phone service and hoped a heroic stranger might rescue them.
About four hours later, a man in a rescue boat piloted Beoubay, her husband, her teenage son, her father-in-law and their pets to safety. Such drama was commonplace for thousands of people Sunday in southeastern East Baton Rouge Parish.
Farther north, Central was largely cut off from the rest of the parish, with flooding along its major thoroughfares, while more people still needed help and rescue in Baker, Zachary and other places that flooded earlier in the weekend.
Despite the experience of flood victims upriver Friday and Saturday, many were surprised by the scope of the Sunday morning flooding, which drowned most of O'Neal Lane and washed out a bridge near Magnolia Trace Parkway.
The Tiger Bend Road and Jefferson Highway area was also hit hard, turning streets into lakes near Woodlawn Middle School.
Hoo Shoo Too Road and subdivisions on Elliot Road and South Tiger Bend Road were overtaken with water. Neighborhood streets became makeshift boat launches for volunteers trying to rescue folks who were trapped inside their homes as floodwater made an aggressive push into the area overnight.
"This is just crazy; it's unbelievable," said Beoubay, who lives in Lakes at Magnolia Trace off O'Neal Lane. "Last night it was just in the streets. And we woke up around 3 o'clock this morning and water was in the house."
Water closed in rapidly on the Sherwood Forest area Sunday, swallowing both ends of South Sherwood Forest Boulevard leaving a dry gap between South Choctaw Drive and Goodwood Boulevard.
At both those extremes along the boulevard, water seeped in from three sides at intersections, creating a sense of feeling trapped for those on the corridor who swore they'd be safe. Over a couple of hours' time, the water rose insidiously, winding around corners and forming troughs deep enough to stop traffic in the residential neighborhood.
Overflow from Jones Creek to the south, and Hurricane Creek, a tributary of the Comite River, to the north, contributed to the flooding.
Men with camouflage-patterned motorboats showed up unbidden, departing into the water with police and returning with people and their pets. One man emerged from the water with a cage full of kittens.
National Guard transport trucks periodically crawled out of the water and deposited stunned evacuees with their plastic bags full of belongings. They trudged toward CATS buses or school buses promising to transport them to shelters.
More than 2,000 evacuees arrived by afternoon at Baton Rouge's Celtic Media Centre. They transformed it from a movie and production studio into a shelter for those who lost their homes in severe flooding around the parish.
But little time for preparation left Celtic needing a lot of assistance, and the state eventually stepped in, according to Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations, and Catherine Heitman, state Department of Children and Family Services spokeswoman.
Evacuees arrived in droves, and more than 2,500 cots arrived on Sunday afternoon for people spending the night.
Mulhearn said the phones were ringing nonstop with people trying to find loved ones. The American Red Cross has directed people to their "safe and well" website at www.redcross.org/safeandwell to mark themselves as safe and to connect with family.
Meanwhile, evacuees were left to stand in long lines waiting for restrooms and pass time on sound stages not meant and not equipped for people to spend the night.
Mulhearn called on volunteers to bring hot food, chairs, plumbing supplies, portable restrooms and showers, and more. Elizabeth Bollinger, a physician with St. Elizabeth in Gonzales, volunteered at the shelter and said they needed insulin, oxygen, inhalers, EpiPens, beta blockers, seizure medications, anxiety medications and SSRI medications.
"Celtic is a small town right now and we are experiencing small town problems," Mulhearn said. "All kinds of things, like traffic, animal control, feeding the homeless, you name it."
The state Department of Health and Hospitals also opened a medical special needs shelter Sunday evening at the LSU Fieldhouse geared toward those whose health issues could not be accommodated in a regular shelter.
Even places that did not flood took precautions against it.
Ochsner Health System transferred about 50 critical patients to other Ochsner centers Sunday in case of flooding. High water rushed off the O'Neal Lane Interstate 12 East ramp near Ochsner, looking like white-water rapids.
Families can call 504-842-3198 to receive updates on the Ochsner patients who were transferred.
A spokeswoman for Woman's Hospital on Airline Highway said Sunday that they had no plans to evacuate, saying no water had crept inside the hospital. Water did surround the building, filling the grounds and lapping toward Airline Highway.
Miles away, the city of Central was essentially an island, with its major thoroughfares in and out of the city completely cut by the overflowing rivers after the water destroyed homes there Saturday. Many people who fled earlier returned Sunday to their Central homes to try to assess damage, grab supplies or rescue friends and families who stayed behind.
Joor Road, Hooper Road, Greenwell Springs Road and the Central Thruway were blocked for several miles. For the most part, people trying to access their homes or check on others had to get there by boat.
Albert White, pastor of the Abounding Love Church on Hooper Road, caught a ride with a good Samaritan who volunteered his motorboat.
"I've been here since 1997 and never seen anything like this," he said as the boat motored past home after home on Hooper with water so deep it only showed the tips of fence lines and the very tops of mailboxes.
The man with the boat was trying to nagivate a way to rescue a friend on Joor Road, a man he said is a dog trainer stranded with 32 animals at his house.
But the problem many people trying to rescue others by boats were facing was the intermittent pattern of flooding, with deep lake-like pools separated by dry stretches of road — which made it hard to reach any destination by water.
Those rescued throughout the parish were especially grateful to their rescuers and to those helping provide shelter.
Gloria Sorrell was one of many gathered at the water's edge of drowned streets of O'Neal Lane, awaiting contact with loved ones trapped inside their flooded homes.
Sorrell had to wait nearly four hours on O'Neal Lane before she was able to sigh with relief as a motorboat stuffed with her granddaughter and four great-grandchildren made its way out of the Lakes at Magnolia Trace subdivision toward her.
"I'm good. It's all good now that I've got them," she said, a smile on her face.
She hugged each of her loved ones as they stepped off the boat onto dry land.