Lake Charles flooding

The Lake Charles area flooded Monday, May 17 after heavy rain. Ryan Street, pictured, here, was flooded.

A surprise deluge wreaked havoc on south Louisiana communities this week, shutting down roads, closing businesses and flooding homes.

And as is the way when Louisiana is faced with extreme weather, people found ways to get around the floodwaters. One example of a Lake Charles father doing just that went viral on Twitter. 

In the 30-second video, a man could be seen wading through water up past his knees. He pulled behind him a kayak with two small children sitting inside. 

The man behind the camera phone asks: "Did you just pick them up from school?" 

The father, dressed in rain gear, shouts back "yeah" before telling the man filming to stay safe.

"I was a dad determined to get his kid," said Danny Bartlett, of Lake Charles. "That's all that was on my mind."

What would normally be a quick 15 minute trip took two hours to pick up his 7-year-old daughter, Kinsley, and a friend's daughter in the same grade from T.S. Cooley Elementary School, which on Monday was completely surrounded by water.

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So he grabbed his kayak from the garage, parked his truck as close to the school as he could, then started paddling for his daughter. Bartlett guessed the walk back to his truck, with both girls in the kayak, was about 1,000 yards, and in 18 to 33 inches of water.

The video had 1,234 retweets, 4,418 likes and a host of commenters expressing their heartache for Lake Charles, a city that has hardly recovered from two 2020 hurricanes that left the area in shambles. 

Ryan Street in Lake Charles is just one part of the Lake Charles area that flooded Monday, May 17, 2021 after heavy rain.

The viral video was then picked up by ABC, whose tweet that read "NO ROAD. NO PROBLEM" resulted in some Twitter users calling out the national media outlet for the caption's insensitivity after hundreds of homes flooded Monday. 

Some parts of Lake Charles saw up to 15 inches of rain on Monday, and at least 200 residents were in need of rescue. Bartlett said they're used to rain in Lake Charles, even a little bit of street flooding, but Monday's storm went beyond anyone's expectations and was certainly unwelcomed for a town still getting back on its feet.

"It’s just been one thing after another after another after another," Bartlett said. "As a community, you get to a point where you get hit in the gut so much, you learn to come together. Everybody is their brother’s keeper."

The disastrous rains then moved east to Baton Rouge, where up to 10 inches of rain fell and street flooding became a major issue. Multiple storm-related deaths have been confirmed and suspected in metro Baton Rouge and Lake Charles.

Forecasters said more rain is expected to drench south Louisiana through Thursday, with several parishes still under a flash flood watch until Thursday evening.


Contact Katelyn Umholtz at kumholtz@theadvocate.com.