When The Advocate put out a call for heroes of the Cajun Navy, many of you responded with stories of unbelievable bravery. Some of these heroes are forever anonymous. Some are remembered only by their first names. Others are known affectionately as "airboat driver from New Iberia" or "nice lady in GMC Envoy."
Several heroes will be honored at the Red Stick Together concert Sunday in downtown Baton Rouge.
Here are 150 stories from readers, in their own words:
— Submitted by Wendy Carter, Gonzales
Trent Naquin is a former marine from Larose , Louisiana. Trent got married on August 13th in the mist of the flood to Devon Brignac from Gonzales LA. Many of their guest couldn't attend their wedding due to their homes being flooded. Trent didn't go on a honeymoon but instead loaded up his boat on Monday, August 14th to return to his brides hometown to help assist in rescues. Trent gave up his precious time with his new bride on Monday and Tuesday to come help make rescues before returning to work as a captain of an off shore boat.
Jere Delaune, Cody Coston
— Submitted by Keith Silvio, Baton Rouge
We woke up just about the time water starting rolling in our front door. By the time we left 30 minutes later to take shelter on our neighbors porch with several other families, the water was up to our thighs and rushing. An old friend from high school, Cody Coston came through on a boat and fished our family and others off the porch to make our first leg of the trip. Once on higher ground, we quickly realized that the water was continuing to rise. That's when Jere showed up and began to move folks 4-5 at a time to safety. He was from Brusly, and totally uninvolved in the situation. He only wanted to do what he could to help. After moving my family to safety, I stayed with him while he continued to make trips for 10 hours straight, not taking his boat out until well after dark. The most amazing moment was when a National Guard truck was being used to move people down Greenwell Springs road, but the water was rushing and up to the bottoms of the doors. As the truck pulled onto the road to make its way towards safety, it lost track of the roadway underneath the water and slipped off onto the shoulder. The whole truck listed and the 20 or so men, woman and children in the back with no life vests were panicking. Jere quickly brought his boat along side of the truck and pulled as many as we could hold, including two National Guardsman in the truck. All occupants made it to safety and the truck remained there, inoperable. Jere was among many who did a selfless thing and helped my family and many others. I'd estimate he moved 200 people of all walks of life that day to safety, including many in wheel chairs, elderly and children. He's a great example of what we stand for in Louisiana.
Eldridge and Debbie Johnson
— Submitted by Melanie Griffin, Baton Rouge
August 14, 2016 2:30am Bam, Bam, Bamming on the front door wakes up Debbie and Eldridge Johnson of Denham Spring,LA. The next door neighbor is alerting them that the front of the subdivision is already flooded and they need to leave at once. 5a.m. The water slowly fills the street until it is knee deep. Eldridge plants a small flag by his mailbox to gauge the depth of the water that has already crept up to the front edge of his lawn. 8am Sheriffs are going door to door to urge residents to evacuate. 10am The whirring of helicopters fill the air as a small landing pad is set up on a vacant lot one door down from their house. Dozens of families carrying a few belonging linger in their driveway waiting to board the helicopters in the sweltering August heat. Eldridge quickly brings out folding chairs and hands out bottles of cold water to the waiting neighbors. He tries to lighten the situation by telling them that where he lived in Illinois, the snowdrifts were 12 feet tall and he could not even leave his driveway. As more people were transported by boat to the front of his house to board the helicopters, Debbie noticed that a mother was trying to breastfeed her infant by her garage door. She quickly invited her inside her home as well as numerous restless children. She put cartoons on the TV to entertain the children and prepared popcorn and large pitchers of Kool-Aid. Throughout all the chaos, she remembered to check with the mothers to see if any children are allergic to red dye. 2pm Most of the neighbor has been evacuated, but Eldridge, Debbie and a couple of neighbors remain behind. They remain vigilant and pray that the water will not rise further. 4pm They can see the water is receding and spot the top of the flag he planted earlier. The remaining neighbors thank them profusely for their hospitality and good will during the time of crisis. Eldridge and Debbie (my brother & sister-in-law) allowed children, women and older persons to evacuate before they considered leaving. They showed extreme hospitality and compassion to individuals in their neighborhood and I highly commend their actions and am pleased to nominate them as "first responders" in the devastating flood of 2016.
Joey Bernard, Emileigh Searcy
— Submitted by Lawton Searcy
This letter is in response to your request for hero stories of the Cajun Navy:
Joey Bernard of Butt La Rose brought his boat to Denham Springs the Saturday of the flood, August 8. My daughter, Emileigh Searcy who dates Joey, joined him. Most of their efforts focused on the Walker area After a day of rescuing people, they loaded his boat back on the trailer at dark to return home.
While trying to make their way back on I-12, they saw lights and a helicopter in front of them. Inquiring as to what was happening, they were told a deputy sheriff from Pointe Coupee parish in a rescue boat had been sucked under the water of an over pass and thrown from his boat. He was clinging to a tree in the woods.
The helicopter could not reach him and others with boats said the water was too swift for a rescue. They could hear the pleas for help from the officer. My daughter took a Q- beam light and located him in the trees. Joey said he couldn't stand by and watch a man die. He launched his boat off of I-12 and with my daughter holding the light from shore, he made the dash to the officer. He had a broken arm and was clinging to the tree barely above water with the other arm.
Joey reached down in the water and grabbed the officer and pulled him into the boat, safely returning to the road. My daughter who is an RN and a medic secured his arm and placed him a national guard truck that had arrived on scene and transported him out. By that time Joey and Emileigh could not get out of the area so they spent 3 days rescuing people.
— Submitted by Mark Thibidaux
I stopped at a store this morning as I do each sunday on my way to church and as usual I purchased a Sunday paper. When I got home ( camper trailer due to the flood ) I began to read and was taken back to the day that a young man saved mine and my families life during the recent flood. His name was Scott Ayers , I will never forget how he remained calm , gave us water , food , a shoulder to cry on and most important showed what a True Louisiana Native is all about ....... COMPASSION , RESPECT .... AND CAJUN HONOR !!!!
My family and I had been on the roof of our house for 16 hrs and it was dark and to be honest I was beginning to become scared that no one was coming , that's when we saw his boat idling through the trees and houses with a spot light and a bull horn calling for people that could hear him to let them know help was here and we had not been forgotten about ...
when you see these type of things it is normally in a movie and the star is calm and in command ( because he has to only hear "cut " and go back to safety off set ) Scott was extremely calm , comforting to our children , us and even our Black Lab Zues . When everything we had known as a family was destroyed , baby pictures , wedding pictures ect , Scott was the rock we needed to remind us that it is going to be ok , the memories can be made again , the material things can be replaced , but our family was safe again and still together !!!!!
My wife , Tammy , offered to pay him for the rescue and his response is something we will never forget as long as I live ... " I don't want your money ma'am , I just want ya'll to remember that down here we don't turn our backs on our neighbors in time of need , this is a bad deal but we as a community are stronger than any flood waters, winds or whatever else is thrown at us ... we will come back from this and come back bigger and better than ever " . Great words from a soft spoken hero !!!!
I tried to thank Scott after we got off the boat and he helped us unload the bags , but he had already pushed off and was heading back out into the darkness to help others .
I found out later that he is a professional fisherman and considered by many as a celebrity , and that he also devotes his time to the community that he was working so hard to serve during this disaster with High School Fishing Teams , and a Back the Blue Campaign for the Law Enforcement Community In the Wake of the tragedy of July .
So in answer to your front page request , I nominate Scott Ayers as my Cajun Navy Hero
attached is his Face Book and the way that I was able to find him as well as a Photo of him and the boat that was used to save our lives.
Trouble seeing the video? Click here.
Hunter Mccollugh, Justin Cox
"I will never forget ... the bravery of two very fine young men"
— Submitted by William Lewis Jr.
Saturday afternoon the initial flood waters had receded and our house was spared. I was concerned about backwater as the river crested and planned to stay up all night and monitor the water level. At 9:40 pm water started coming down our street from I 12 which was about 1 1/2 miles away. By midnight we had water in the house. I posted on social media to see if the road out of our subdivision was passable. The reply was only by boat. Almost instantly my phone rang. It was Hunter Mccollugh. Hunter is the son in law of our very good friends Milton and Tammy Bendily. Hunter had seen my post on social media and asked if he needed to come get us. I was hesitant at first. Asking someone else to put their life at risk to help you is not an easy decision. It was midnight,the water was rising fast and I thought of mom and dad who lived down the street. I told him to come and get them out and we would decide once they got here. By the time Hunter and his brother in law Justin Cox arrived in the boat the water was waist deep outside. We decided to leave. I will never forget that midnight phone call and offer for help and the bravery of two very fine young men.
James LeBlanc, Edward
'He has never stopped since day 1, to take care of all the people of Ascension Parish that he loves so very much'
— Submitted by Louise French, Gonzales
James E LeBlanc is the Fire Chief in St. Amant La, Even though his home was 4 ft under water, & he was very ill with bronchitis, he has never stopped since day 1, to take care of all the people of Ascension Parish that he loves so very much, working non stop even after losing his fire stations, he has worked 20 hts a day, taking 300, to 400 phone calls per day, saving flooded tombs, from floating away, to commanding over 500 people, He has never once thought of himself, as his home was going under & the home of his Son, James E. LeBlanc is a Hero, & all of Ascension Parish & St Amant look to him for guidence every day. The Fire Chief:s job is a non-paying job, He does all of this for 30 years because he loves this Parish & the people of this Parish so very much.
'They all went because it was the right and humane thing to do'
— Submitted by Mary Spinato
Ultimate Swamp adventure owner, Joe Spinato, called his captains, Randy, Eric and Mitch, on Saturday. They went to Baton Rouge with the airboats, worked with the police to rescue hundreds of residents. They all went because it was the right and humane thing to do. Not for recognition but just being good people. One of the people they rescued was Joe's uncle Jerome who had just returned to his home in Baton Rouge after being in Egypt for 3 years with his daughter.
— Submitted by Jennifer Cottano, Greenwell Springs
I am writing this story on behalf of my grandmother. At about 8 a.m. on Saturday August 13, 2016 my grandmother was woken up by a friend knocking on her door. One of her neighbors had come to get her because her home was starting to flood. He took her to his home in Evergreen Hills and while she was there, the home began to take on water. My boyfriend Marshal Hoglund (Big Hog) had been out since 7 a.m. rescuing people out of Central Estates trailer park (my mom, sister, niece, nephew, and his ex-wife included in those people). He finally made it home to get myself and our kids. We loaded up and went to my cousins home, as our house was starting to flood and her home was not. Once we got there, I asked him to please go and get our Granny because she was afraid and the house she was in was taking on water. He left out to go and get her. It took him nearly 4 hours to get her and get her home. He got a boat and tied it around his wrist with a piece of string, and swam the boat 2 miles to the house she was in and got her. He then swam the boat back another 2 miles with my Granny, her friend, and her friends 3 dogs. Once he got back with my Granny, he went back out in the dark to go and get my aunt and my uncle who had been evacuated from their home and shuffled from one shelter to another. Not only did he spend all day Saturday rescuing all of my family, he rescued many strangers and went out again on Sunday and rescued more people. His new nickname in our house is Big Hero 6. He risked his life to save, my mom, my sister, my niece, my nephew, my grandmother, my aunt, my uncle, and countless strangers. I'm not sure what my family would have done without him during this flood.
'We don't know your names, but your faces will forever be in our memory'
— Submitted by Jackie Guillot
We had a house full that night. My earth mom a disabled 76 year old, my brother and his 8 month pregnant wife, my nephew and his family of five kids, my wife and I along with everyone's pets, two pitbulls, four doxies, a chihuahua and a cat. Because we had been assured the diversionary canal would handle the water the 44' crest they predicted at 1am sounded scary but shouldn't have been but a foot or two in the house. Because of our animals we decided to hang tight. At 4:45 am my wife woke me. The water looked like a river in the front yard. I walked out to the street to see how deep thinking we could escape in the Carovan. The water was already hip deep in the street and rising quickly. I told the wife call for a rescue we're not getting out. We scrambled to grab everyone a over night bag and I started crating dogs and getting them higher. We had them on the dinning room table and the water was just under it. That's when we heard the first boats. They struggled to get up the street due to the Amite out of its banks and running wide open but somehow they made it to us. The water was above the car that was parked in the driveway but the top was still above water. The parked the boat at that vehicle, tied off and started the process of loading. They quickly realized we would need two loads so they grabbed the children and all of us together lifted mom into the boat with her two doxies loaded in one carrier. Without question they took the dogs with her and gave us their word they would be back for the rest of us. While we waited we scrambled to pick up furniture and appliances and try to save our photos. I tried to enter my bed room to grab my medicine but when I opened the door the window across the room shattered and the rush of water knocked me off my feet. Struggling under the water I hit my head on the coffee table and almost knocked myself out but suddenly I felt the floor so I got my footing spit and spewed water until I could breathe. I heard my brother screening they're back come on. Those beautiful men had once again fought the current and come back for the rest of us. They loaded everyone in the boat including the rest of the pets except my big pitbull that isn't animal friendly. I had him and was refusing to get in the boat because I knew he might cause problems. I was going to get him and I to the roof and try to wait it out. Crazy right? Without missing a set the boat captain asked what the problem was when my brother told him he said get his crate we're not coming back and you and the dog are going. They had him loaded in he's crate in seconds and before I could blink he they grabbed me and pulled me into the boat. As we pulled away from our home I could see that car we used to get up to the boat disappear beneath the water. In complete shock I watched the houses filled with 4 - 5 feet of water go by as we speed down the middle of streets I had driven on a few hours earlier. Making our way up 4 H club road to get to the racetrac that was above water at that time. Countless cars abandoned in the road made our way difficult as we we hitting them. We unloaded and reunited all our people and pets and waited. The water started coming up their fast. An hour later the water was knee deep and again we were needing rescue. Just in the nick of time the Denham Springs police boat stopped to see how many we had their. We numbered about 45 people. Within a 30 minutes we could hear the boat roaring up Florida st. toward the river through the swiftest currents I have ever seen. They parked the boats out by the gas pumps due to the number of vehicles that had parked trying to get above water. One at a time they got each person on a boat with their pets mostly swimming behind them. I was on the last boat out with my dog. I could see dry land as we approached the Witney Bank where I use to work. The kind Cajun Navy boatman had secured a chair for mom and she was sitting in the middle of Florida st waiting on me. As I got off the boat I hugged the boatman and thanked him for getting us all at the same location. His big smile was enough as I wiped my tears away and started getting us together in one location. From there, the Denham Springs police got us over to the Albertson's parking lot where the National Guard was picking us up by truck load to take us to a shelter. While at the Albertson's my wife's sister somehow got through the flood water from Walker and gathered us up in her truck and neighbors jeep. We all, including the pets made it to safety because of those brave boys and young lady that came hauling ass to rescue us. Never taking their own danger in thought they grabbed their boats and got a crew together and headed for us. God bless you everyone. We don't know your names but your faces will forever be in our memory. If you are the three gentlemen who picked us up on S. Woodcrest st. we can not thank you enough. I would love to thank you in person. God bless the Cajun Navy.
Richie Schaefer, Ryan Evans
— Submitted by Valerie Schaefer
In the very early morning hours of August 6th my husband, Richie Schaefer, would normally be heading to Exxon Mobil in Baton Rouge for work but instead received a call from a friend that needed help because of eminent flooding in the Baton Rouge area. Without hesitation, he hooked his boat up to his truck and headed to Baton Rouge. The next 6 days consisted of rescues that would forever change his life. Richie and his friend, Ryan Evans, worked from sun up to past sun down rescuing people desperate for help. Age, race, gender didn't matter, they helped anyone they could reach including nursing home residents, this was humans helping humans. Richie and Ryan did not do this for any type of recognition but did it because they have a heart for helping those in need. Many say Richie was a blessing to so many but he would argue that he was the blessed one. A man with a boat and a heart of gold reached out a helping hand and is forever changed from his experience.
Euclid Michel III, Euclid Michel, Jr; Clay Moffitt and Tommy Moffitt
— Submitted by Lisa Daggett, Brusly
Euclid III and Euclid Jr got a call from a friend that her dad went to get his boat and did not come back. They loaded up their flat bottom frogging boat at 11:00 pm , picked up Tommy and Clay and went to Oneal Lane. They launched their boat in the rain and darkness and rescued two friends and two strangers from two flooded houses. The conditions were very dangerous but they did not think about their own safety. They only thought about saving the lives of their friends and total strangers who were in need!
Fire Department at Jefferson and Hoo Shoo Too Road, Airboat driver from New Iberia
— Submitted by Dawn Brewster, Baton Rouge
It did not register that we were about to flood. We saw water in the street but never thought we would not be able to get out if necessary. When the Army truck came by it hit us that we should leave. My mom is about to be 89 years old. I am a polio victim. I use crutches. We talked to the people in the truck and they said they would send a boat for us. We packed bags, collected 3 birds and a cat. They knew I would be a issue so they took my mom out and the animals first and came back for me. My mom even today says she has never walked in that much water in her life. Some young man offered his truck so the firemen came to pick me up with the other neighbors. They lifted me up on to the back of the truck. When we got to the front of the subdivision (Mallard Crossing off of Hoo Shoo Too) all you could see was water everywhere. I had a wheelchair so they put me in it and got me to the airboat. The firemen and the airboat driver from New Iberia deserve ALL of the recognition!!! They worked tirelessly ALL DAY on Hoo Shoo Too to help people! August 13th.
— Submitted by Leslie Valure, Denham Springs
Tim tried and tried to get someone with a bigger truck than his to get him & his boat to help people surrounding the Bass Pro store as his streets were flooded but he was sure his house would not flood. As God works in mysterious ways, nobody could come. Lucky for my daughter and granddaughter, his wife & child, because when their house flooded, the water rose fast. Thankfully their neighbors helped Tim get his boat off the trailer and he was able to get his family to safety. Then he worked until well after midnight rescuing his neighbors. Thanking all who worked so hard to save people they didn't even know.
Ryan Hebert, Floyd Coye, Matthew Coye, Cory Coye
— Submitted by Eric Garcia, Baton Rouge
The group of us, along with thousands of other brave Louisiana men and women, were out helping our neighbors in need. We saw everything from total devastation and people crying to people that gave hugs and kisses and thanked you for what you were doing. We also had people that had lost everything try to give you something for helping them when that is not why we were doing it. We had people hug and kiss us and shake our hands because we offered them a water and a hot dog - yes somehow we ended up with a box of hot dogs in our boat. It was truly awesome to see how many people were out there helping and to see all different kinds of people in the boats. No one or no animal was left behind, all were helped.
Mike Martone, Mark Rayburn
— Submitted by Eric Garcia, Baton Rouge
My son-in-law and I probably rescued around 75 people out of the Joor Rd. area including a blind baby and her mother. We crossed the Comity River on Greenwell Springs Rd. in the tops of the trees, but had to abort due to strong and unsafe currents.
— Submitted by Linda Painter, Denham Springs
Our Cajun Navy hero wore a DIRECTV t-shirt...After we saw the water go down about 18 inches that Saturday afternoon, we relaxed and thought we had dodged another flood, since we, like so many others, had never flooded before. An hour or so later, the water had not only come back to where it was before but it had reached our doorway and was starting to come inside. That's when we knew we were in trouble.We tried several different emergency numbers but could not get through to any of them despite the efforts of our family who provided us with numerous other numbers to try. So we decided to try to walk out. The strong current and waistdeep water stopped that idea in its tracks.We climbed onto the hood of my husband's truck and sat surrounded by water 3 feet deep. We continued trying the emergency numbers. Then our hero appeared. He was guiding a 16 foot bateau toward our neighbors' house. After he rescued the parents and their son, he came over to our house. We like to think the DTV satellite dish on the roof convinced him to stop for us!?! After he helped us climb in, he went on to rescue two ladies and their cat, then 2 dogs that belonged to the man who was with him. We were tense; he was confident. He kept our spirits up with his comments while expertly making his way through strong currents to bring us to safety. He even commented on that Cox Cablevision truck we saw--too bad it was getting flooded!As he let us out of his bateau, his phone rang and he told his wife he had to go back in to help some others. We hope she understood how important he was that night. One other thing we know about our hero is that he is from Walker. We also know he saved us that day, and we will never be able to repay him. We like likely keep DIRECTV service for a long, long time to help keep our Cajun Naval hero a part of our daily life. We will never forget him.
— Submitted by Christina Normand, Baton Rouge
We have a house full of pets, all rescues of one sort or another. When we realized that we were going to get worse than sloppy floors Sunday, we started trying to figure out how we were going to get all of them safely out with us. I called 911 (once the phone started working again) and was told that Homeland Security was coordinating pet rescues and that someone would call us back. That call never came. Our wifi had gone out and even burning data, the Internet was hit and miss. A friend of ours in Rhode Island who was following events here online found the Rescue website and called in the Cajun Navy. About 10:30 Sunday evening, when we had a foot and a half of water in the house and over four feet in the street, two young men who looked they they were barely out of their teens showed up at my door and loaded me, my husband, fifteen cats, three dogs and a rabbit into the boat and took us to the Celtic Media Center. They were full and suggested we try the River Center. The River Center did not accept pets, so we asked permission to offload on the sidewalk, as a friend had told us she would come get us if we could get to dry land. These young men then headed to Denham Springs, where others awaited their aid. I wish I could recall their names.
Thomas Graves, Frank DuVall, his grandson and Thomas' son Bucky
— Submitted by Lou Ann Hutchinson, Zachary
He came with his boat and started taking out people. First was the oldest person in the park, a 90+ year old lady.
— Submitted by Linda Harvison, French Settlement
I live on the Amite River in French Settlement. Due to hip replacement surgery on Aug. 9 and being monitored by home health it was decided that I would "evacuate" to the home of Tee Cazayoux and my sister, Janice Wray, lived 4 town homes away from her. Safe and secure. I left on Saturday. Sunday morning a phone call at 4:30 informed us that the water was rising. They lived at 12500 Old Hammond Hwy, next to the LHSAA building. By 8:30 the water was in the house. We called for evacuation. The National Guard truck arrived around 11:30 am and quickly filled. The National Guardsman told me that I really needed a boat, to put me in the truck might injure me. A picture of this man and some others in front of my sisters home was on in the advocate online. The truck left and soon another one came - by this time the water is knee high. The truck was followed by the Cajun Navy! Tee stood in the door and waved and this hugh man pulled into the garage. After talking a few minutes he assured me he could get me in the boat without injury to my new hip (I could not really bend my leg at this time. I was in the arms of an angel as he lifted me, after filling the boat with pillows and blankets. Just his physical presence told me that God was looking out for me! We took off headed to millerville and the interstate. He was from Avoylees Parish and all he asked was would I call his wife when I had cell service. He put her number in my phone and when I finally got service what a great conversation we had. We became facebook friends. He dropped us and turned around and headed to do more. He said he heard the news, had been thru floods and just knew he had to go help. He made a difference in so many lives.
— Submitted by Laura Campa, Baton Rouge
Garrett works for me as a technician. Garrett started doing boat rescues on 8/13 and worked until 8/17. He followed the flood waters as they went South and worked with Ascension Parish officials doing medical rescues. On 8/18, he went to work gutting homes, assisting several of his coworkers. He worked non stop going from 6 am to 10 pm at night. He finally came back to work on 8/23 and has been assisting people with their homes in the evenings. He has worked nonstop, without complaint, and very unselfishly. To me, this is what being a hero is about. Service before self to the betterment of the community, trying to make a difference in a person's life. One of our employees that Garrett assisted is a gentlemen with diabetes, Bruce Scott, who had no idea how he was going to deal with his flooded home. Garrett showed up with 5 people, including another employee Robbie Freeling, and they had his home gutted in four hours with everything hauled to the curb. Bruce had tears of appreciation in his eyes when telling the story of Garrett and Robbie helping him, as prior to the help he had felt overwhelmed.
Mike Fountain, Josh Fountain
— Submitted by Debbe Fountain, Walker
After using our 19" Tracker Boat to rescue Kacie, Matt, & Debbe Fountain and the 3 the person family across the street from us, my husband and oldest son continued to rescue people until 5:30 in the morning. It was dangerous getting people out of the neighborhoods along Pendarvis Lane due to the strong current and all of the underwater debris. The National Guard only had 2 airboats operating in the area and Livingston Parish had 1 boat in use with over 150 calls for rescues at the time according to the National Guard Commander. They are my hero!
Kevin Nguyen, his wife and two children
— Submitted by Charles Stutts, Denham Springs
Mr. Nguyen and his family rescued my wife and two friends in their boat as water began lapping our front porch. We were totally surprised by the flood and could not have been evacuated to a shelter but for them. They lived next door.
— Submitted by Beth Dawson, Jackson
A community in Clinton, LA was flooding quickly and badly. Jeff went out to see what he could do to help. He is the parish tax assessor. We lost 250 homes in this section called Rileyville. He went in one trailer that was filled with water but he wanted to make sure that everyone was out. He went to one bedroom and a woman was standing on her bed with water up to her shoulders. He grabbed her, brought her to a boat, turn around and the trailer had filled with water. If Jeff hadn't been there she would have drown.
Rita and Calvary
— Submitted by Rosalyn Allain, Walker
I would like to nominate Rita Angelloz Major from Rosedale, LA and her girls whom I have nicknamed the coonass calvary. Rita and her girls loaded up at the beginning of the storm to bring much needed supplies to those who had been evacuated to the shelters from there they begin to connect with those who had no help in gutting their home. She has never asked to be recognized and will probably be mad that I submitted this...but she and her girls are my heros!! her hubby and son too.
Kevin Williams, Matthew Williams
— Submitted by Keiley Well, Denham Springs
Being surrounded by water, stranded on the island we call Denham Springs & not being able to get to family for several days was gosh awful. Knowing they were safe was at least a little comforting. My hero's are all of the Cajun Navy including my brother Kevin & nephew Matthew who walked through chest high contaminated water to rescue my in laws who are in their late 80's & dog from Park Forest in Baton Rouge by canoe. They then searched for a food establishment to get food for my in laws & found them shelter at a hotel miles away. I also want to give a shout out to my other brother Keith Williams & neighbors for being part of the Cajun Navy & trying to get to other people by boat to help them.
— Submitted by Ralph and Kim Springfield, Denham Springs
Edward Wall, Shari Wall
My husband, Ralph and I received a phone call at exactly 2:38 am Saturday morning from a friend asking if we could help save her mom's home from the flood. My husband woke up, put on his clothes and prepared to leave. A few moments later he came back in and told me that we could not save anyone else's home - we had to save our home. At that time it was almost in our home - our driveway was completely covered with our mailbox barely visible. Our main goal was to just get our vehicles out, along with my dog and head out of our neighborhood. That did not happen. We actually got 2 of our 3 vehicles to the road leading into our neighborhood before realizing we were surrounded by water. Having no way out we made a phone call to my sister and brother-in-law. After 2 hours, they found a boat, managed to get to our neighborhood and launch the boat. One of the best sights I've ever seen was my brother-in-law, Edward coming toward us in the boat. At this time, the water was over our heads in parts of our neighborhood. With no regard for his safety, he made his way toward us. We were able to get into the boat and to higher ground at the front of our neighborhood. Had it not been for Edward and Shari Wall, we may have not gotten out. They are true heroes in our eyes and deserve to be recognized. After rescuing us, my husband, Ralph and Edward managed to rescue 3 other families in my neighborhood and also a few more in the surrounding areas.
Mike Jones, Jake Donaldson, Bo Gautreau
— Submitted by Chris and Gordon Jones, Denham Springs
We were rescued off of the roof of our house by these brave men. They heard us talking and asked if we needed help. We said there was one problem, we had 4 adults and 4 dogs. They said bring em on! He had 14 plus dogs at his home and a huge kennel. They boated us to safety and Mike and lovely Wife Donna has given us a little garage apt. To stay until we can return home for good. True heroes in my mind!
Brant, Brant's wife, Amy
— Submitted by Christopher Ryan, Prairieville
My family managed to boat out, but we got lost. There was nothing around us but water for miles, and we couldn't even see some of the road signs. Out of nowhere, Brant and Amy drove up to us in their boat and asked if they could help. We told them where we were trying to get to, and they promised to take us there. It took us 3 hours, and we navigated between backyard fences and lawn ornaments, but we finally made it. Brant and Amy told us they'd lost everything except what they were wearing and their boat. We asked them why they were still out helping people, and they said "We have nothing else to do. The least we can do is help other people." When we left, they told us they were gonna pick up their boat and go help others. And a couple of days later, I saw them lowering their boat in a completely different town I was driving through, getting ready to help others.
Curtis Tupper, Tupper family and Church of the Highlands
— Submitted by Judi Turner, Baton Rouge
My father, Frank Turner, is 91 and a WWII Navy veteran. My father does not walk much these days and requires a wheelchair to go most places, these wonderful people came in their boat and picked daddy up and his little dog, carried him to the boat and then took him to the Tupper home until my daughter and I could get out to get him. They did not stop then, Mr. Tupper called to check on daddy and then came with family and church members to take the sheetrock and insulation out of our home. Their church member even brought food while they were here working. It is uplifting to know that their are still people out there that care about the people that fought in WWII-Mr. Tupper thanked daddy several times for serving our country. Daddy was not the only elderly person the Tupper's helped that day. We will forever be thankful to God for sending his angels to help us in our hour of need. Thank you Mr. Tupper, family and friends.
— Submitted by Vanessa Bailey, Denham Springs
On August 13, my son and I woke up and turned on the TV. We saw that parts of Denham Springs were starting to flood, but there hadn't been an evacuation for our area yet. He had soccer practice that morning, so we hopped in the car and headed for the indoor soccer complex in St. Gabriel. About half-way there, we got a call from the coach to say that practice was cancelled due to flooding. Thus, we turned around and headed back to Denham Springs. By the time we returned, the exit we had taken out of our subdivision was completely under water along with a ton of houses. We turned back and headed to the front of the subdivision, realizing we couldn't get in from their either. I parked my car at the doctor's office at the head of the street and we waded out to our home. When we arrived, I went into a monumental panic. I called my mother who lives out of state and told her "Mom, we are about to lose our house! What do I do?" She told me to calm down, grab important papers and a few changes of clothes and get out. So we did, and we began to wade back out to the front of the subdivision. About halfway there, a woman called out to us, holding her dog. She was very upset because she couldn't find the street. I told her we were standing in it, just to walk out to us. She panicked as she got closer and knocked my son away from me. I remember the horror of him crying out "Mommy, I can't move, the water is too fast, don't leave me." I turned to the woman and told her "Lady, I'm sorry, but I have to save my kid and you're going to have to calm down." She did and we managed to get my son between us and held each of his hands. The three of us then got to my car and realized that the parking lot was full of water. As we sat there, I watched a woman in a Ford Taurus drive out of the neighborhood and I remember thinking "Well if she can make it, maybe I can too." So I proceeded to drive out into the water, and my poor Prius wasn't happy about that. It immediately shut down and the water floated us back into the parking lot. When we opened the doors, the water was over the seats. From there we waded out onto Range road. We got separated from the lady and her dog as we watched folks on boats start heading into the neighborhood. I looked frantically for what we were going to do and noticed a truck with a hang tag from the company I work for. I approached him and said "Please, I work for the same company, can you help us?" He said. "Sure, jump in." He turned the truck around to head to the interstate when we realized that cars were flooding trying to get on the interstate and we were blocked in as the water was rising. He turned to me and said "Listen, I'm National Guard, I'm going up there to move those cars or we're going to get stuck here. I want you to jump in the driver's seat and when the road clears, pick me up by the interstate." So I followed his command. It was then I realized I didn't know his name or remembered what he looked like. We sat stuck on Range Rd. for almost an hour and the waters continued to rise before we reached the interstate. Thankfully when we reached the driver of the truck, he recognized us. He had been physically moving vehicles out of the exit ramps to clear the road so people could go through. By the time we reached him, the water was at his waist! He jumped in the driver's seat and plowed through the waters east bound on 12. It was then I finally learned his name: Brandon White. He was in the area checking on a coworker's house (my neighbor) who was out of town on vacation. He brought us to his home, allowed us to wash our clothes and take showers, then went to Rouses before it flooded to gather supplies. We stayed with him for four days. During this time, I realized that 9/14/2016 Cajun Navy Honorees 2/2 Brandon is the most resourceful person I've ever met. When we lost power that afternoon, he talked to the neighbors and came up with a spare generator for the next day. We only had 5 gallons of gas and what was in the tank for that night. The following day he was able to hustle up gas from neighbors who were leaving by boat to get to Port Allen, as we were trapped by the Amite on Juban Rd. The next day, he came up with a window unit air conditioning to cool us down. We were never without the whole time we were with Brandon, who was a total stranger to us. On Tuesday, August 16, we learned that the water had gone down enough to get to our homes, but they weren't letting us into the city. His neighbors graciously watched my son as we went into town. We had abandoned our cats when we evacuated and I didn't want my son to see them if they had died. Brandon maneuvered all through back roads and high water to get me to my house to see how bad it was. He stayed and let me cry on his shoulder at the relief that my animals were alive, but also at the devastation of my home. I am forever grateful for all that Brandon did for my son and I. We may have ended up in a shelter, or worse if it hadn't been for him opening his doors up to us. I don't know how I can ever repay him. He will forever be- as we joking call him- my "flood husband!" Included in the pictures below are the entrance of my neighborhood as we evacuated, and Brandon taking a well deserved rest on the couch.
— Submitted by Jessica LeBlanc, Walker
After 30 minutes of unanswered rescue calls & another 45 minutes of waiting after a call went through, with waters quickly rising in our house & my two young kids (4 and 1 years old) standing with me in their rain boots & Puddle Jumpers, my husband, standing waist deep in our front yard, saw a steady stream of young men in fishing boats coming down our river of a street. The Cajun Navy rescued our entire neighborhood & we are so grateful. We don't know their names but our three rescuers described themselves as "just some redneck Walker boys". We gave them our red spot light as they dropped us at the edge of the Winn Dixie parking lot in Walker & went back for another family. I shudder to think of what may have happened that night had they and many others like them shown up that night. Thank you so much to our unnamed heroes!
Derek Aucoin, Jeremy Hartzog
— Submitted by Sean Aucoin, Denham Spring
My brother Derek Aucoin and his neighbor Jeremy Hartzog risked their lives on August 13 2016 to come and rescue me from my house in Denham Springs. The water was about 4 foot and rising when they got there. I was able to load a few items like clothes and we were off to try and get back to the interstate ramp in Denham by BassPro where he put in. The second picture is how fast the water was flowing as we came out from under the interstate. It was like rapids. Three boats had capsized in the area but Dereks 22ft bay boat made it through. I am forever grateful for them.
Charlie Moffatt, Adam Mixon
— Submitted by Richard Fossey, Baton Rouge
My stepson Charlie Moffatt pulled up at the police barricade on I 12 Sunday morning during the Great flood. A police officer blocked the highway from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs, but Charlie was part of the Cajun Navy and needed to get through. "I saved 67 people in Central on Saturday," Charlie told the officer. "Now I'm headed to Denham Springs to evacuate my grandmother. Are you going to stop me?" The officer thought about it a few seconds, and waived Charlie on. Charlie and his friend Adam Mixon were in a Ford 350 pulling a shallow-draft duck hunting boat--the perfect vessel for the Cajun Navy. They drove east on I 12 and launched their boat on the exit ramp near the Bass Pro Shop on Range Avenue. From there, they worked their way through a Denham Springs subdivision near Vincent Road and popped out in my Nephew Brandon's back yard on James Road. Brandon and his family had already evacuated to high ground in a bateau, but I was there with my wife Kim and Kim's brother Jim Alford. Charlie and Adam loaded us up in the duck boat, but Charlie's grandparents (Ivy and Kitty Alford) were stranded with Charlie's Aunt Susan Broussard in the Carter Hills subdivision near Juban Road. We made our way by boat to Vincent Road, which was dry. With the help of some friendly bystanders, we dragged the boat across Vincent Road and headed to Carter Hills. Adam stood in the front of the boat, guiding us with the GPS on his cell phone. The route he plotted took us through the Grey Stone Subdivision and the Grey Stone Golf Course. It was weird winding our way over the golf course in 5 feet of water. The flags marking the holes were sticking out of the water only about 10 inches. Eventually we got to Carter Hills, where we found Charlie's grandparents (Kim's parents), and we set a course back to Range Avenue--seven of us in the boat and beginning to get dark. Eventually we made it back to the boat trailer on I 12, loaded up, and drove back to Baton Rouge driving the wrong way west on Route 12. Charlie and Adam deposited us all safe and sound at his Uncle Donald Alford's house, where we celebrated our rescue with jambalaya and a few Abita Ambers. Now you may ask why my wife Kim and I got evacuated out of Denham Springs that Sunday, since we live in Baton Rouge. That's another story. Kim drove to Denham Springs on Saturday, August 13, to warn her parents to come to Baton Rouge because Denham was going to flood. Her brothers Donald and Jim Alford went with her, 9/14/2016 Cajun Navy Honorees 2/2 and together the family got all of Kitty and Ivy's furniture lifted up about 12 inches in preparation for the flood. But that task took them awhile, and by the time they finished, high water was flooding through the I 12 underpass at Range Avenue. Donald made it out in his pickup truck, but Kitty, Ivy, Jim and Kim got stranded at Brandon Broussard's house on James Road. I was in Baton Rouge, and about 10 o'clock Saturday evening, Kim texted me that two inches of water had come into Brandon's house, and she didn't know how high the water would get. Thinking Kim's sister Susan's house in the Carter Hills subdivision might be safer, Ivy and Kitty were taken there on Saturday evening. I made up my mind to check on Kim and her parents on Sunday morning. I drove to O'Neil Lane and walked down O'Neal a ways until I struck I 12. I then walked down I 12 to Denham Springs and got to Brandon's house about 11 o'clock in the morning. Charlie and Adam arrived shortly thereafter in the duck hunting boat. From there we boated through the Grey Stone subdivision, picked up Kitty and Ivy and returned to the boat trailer at the Range Avenue exit around dark on Sunday night. It was an adventure. And I might add that as we motored home the wrong way on I 12 on Sunday evening, we drove past a long line of pickup trucks and boat trailers at the police barricade on I 12--the Cajun Navy waiting for daylight to rescue more people from the Great Flood of 2016--which we have dubbed "The Redneck Katrina." It was perhaps the Cajun Navy's finest hour.
Harry Reeves, Jr., Colton Shirah
— Submitted by Dena Smith, Denham Springs
Our parents Harry and Jean Reeves both had medical procedures the week of the storm and was at home recovering. My brother Harry Reeves, Jr first drove to our parents home then was stranded after his car was flooded. He then rescued mom/dad and 2 fur babies from their home and pulled them in a broken boat down Brownbud St almost to Carter's on Lockhart on foot before my niece and fiancée Colton Shirah could pick them up in Colton's truck. After the fellas dropped my parents and niece off safely to their house. Colton was called to help rescue other people including our Aunt Judy Tullier with 25 of her neighbors with children in the back of Jason Dr in one of the new subdivisions. Colton and Harry Jr, worked together until my brother injured his foot. Colton however continued on with his raised truck and boat until his pregnant fiancee' (my niece) begged him to get some rest. Thank you Colton and Harry for being our biggest heroes during this historical flood.
— Submitted by Gerrie Englade, St. Amant
He put his boat back in water on the 14th at 12:30am to rescue a mother, dad and 3 month old baby.
— Submitted by Janice Averett, Livingston
I was trapped for 5 days on the 2nd floor of my daughters home which had waist deep water inside. My family from out of town could only get within 6 blocks of me. I was paddled out by my son in law to a airboat and the Cajun Navy. I'm disabled and was out of medicine. Thanks to the Cajun Navy I, as well as my 17 yr old chihuahua are safe.
— Submitted by Trey Truitt, Baton Rouge
Since 10:50 am on Sunday, August 16th, the only words I could find to describe our flood experience was "Thank you for the kindness of strangers and Cajuns with pirouges." Our story, like so many was dramatic and overwhelming during the first hours of Sunday as the waters around our Wedgewood Neighbor began to rise and fill our streets. We knew of the flooding of Wal-Mart on O'Neal on Saturday, but felt "we were fine” going to bed on Saturday night. My wife woke at 545 am, and saw that our streets were beginning to flood. We made a failed attempt to drive out two hours later, only to find O'Neal Lane a river, and the bridge on Firewood with 1.5' of rushing water. We drove back to our house scared, and began posting for help on social media. We could hear the boat launches on I-12 and could see the helicopters flying over, but felt trapped like so many. I was standing in my front yard looking at a new Lexus someone abandoned at our street corner, because the car was submerged over the hood. Just at that moment, a stranger walked into my yard as he was trying to walk around the flood water. With less than a foot of dry land to go to my patio, there was one last walking path. As he approached, I noticed he was in desperate need for help or water. He asked if he could drink from my hose, but I invited him in for a cold glass of water. St. Marc told me that his Mom lived behind my house and he was on his way back to Prairieville. He was evacuated her at 3am and had returned to grab a few of her things. He knew how to get into our neighbor, so the knew how to get out. He offered to help, and we were looking to go to Prairieville where friends had offered to host us. St. Marc carried my 10 year old for 2 blocks on his back through water. I was carrying our dog, Reilly Bean, and luggage. My wife was carrying three bags of our possessions...and her iPhone. Just as we reached the deepest waters, two pirouges showed up. One offered to float our daughter and dog out. Just before I fell completely under the rushing water on the Firewood bridge, my wife snapped this pick of our daughter and dog. We shared this image and story of St. Marc and our Cajun Navy rescue on our social media titled "We are safe" to our friends and followers.
Brandon Vey, Brandon's wife, Mary-Kathryn and anonymous man with truck
— Submitted by Beverly Fry, Baton Rouge
My neighborhood (Mill Brook) has never even had water standing in the streets until this flood. Everyone was caught off guard here and in our neighboring subdivision of Woodland Ridge. The water came in overnight and was up to the top of mailboxes by afternoon the next day. People were panic stricken that they had waited too late to drive out and now water was coming into their homes. My neighborhood has lots of older citizens and single folks, as the homes are smaller, retirement styles. People who are somewhat helpless in an emergency. There were many wonderful people who helped during this scary time, but my neighbor Brandon Vey who is a Navy Seal Reserve Member ( I hope I have that right) jumped into action. He met a stranger on the street with a big truck who was looking for a place to help and brought him to our area. The two of them worked tirelessly from morning till night for 3 days getting people out of Millbrook and Woodland Ridge. When the water started receding Brandon's wife Mary-Kathryn started cooking, as their house had barely escaped getting water. She cooked, fed, helped clean houses and comforted in the horrible aftermath while her other family members kept her 2 toddlers. I hope these two will be recognized for their strength and encouragement to those around them who truly needed them - most of them strangers. I didn't know them well before this tragedy, but will never forget them now!
Jason McClendon, Tara Carrass
— Submitted by Sharon McQuiston, Denham Springs
I had my 92 year old husband, my 92 year old mom who's on hospice , (both are in wheelchairs) my 80 year old neighbor and myself that needed to be rescued from our mobile home which I rented. We waited four hours for the police to come. Finally my daughter, Sherie Scott put a desperate message on Facebook that we were getting water in our trailer and needed to be rescued. A friend of mine , Kacie McClendon saw the message and called her cousins Jason and Tara ( a sister and brother team) who were riding down 190 (Florida Blvd) in their boat toward Denham Springs. Not knowing anything about the city she asked them to read off the next street sign which happened to be the street just across from where we were. They were at my house within 30 minutes of the post. When they got to my mobile home he said his boat was a little wide to come up my handicapped ramp. In told him he could tear one rail off. He got a hammer and tore the rail off. Them he started clipping the hanging branches of a tree by the porch . After that he drove his boat right up on my porch about 6 feet from my door. He loaded all my bags and 2 wheelchairs and an elevated commode cause my husband has two hip replacements and can not sit down too low cause the hip implants pop out of socket . He wanted load all our bags first cause he wanted them as comfortable as possible and as short a period on the boat as possible. He carried my 92 year old mom, my 92 year old husband and my 80 year old neighbor like a baby cradled in his arms and ever so gently lowered them in his boat . He proceeded up my street and about a mile in his boat to dry land where my brother and nephew picked us up. So my Heros were Jason and Tara a brother and sister team !
— Submitted by Brandon Simon, Brusly
Hell came with High Water to our small Cajun town Flooded homes full of families, some folks even drown Hundreds of thousands of lives on the line Made this Louisiana couple tingle, from the base their spine So we loaded our boat, and forged into the storms It filled my heart with pride, to see mud boats in swarms Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics together Working as one, like the birds of a feather Through the night and the day, we all worked as one No eating or sleeping, until the job was done We swam, pulled, and pushed until our people were safe Found old muscles we forgot, and remembered the chafe When the water receded, we trailered our boats Hugged our loved ones, and drank twice our dose But with the next sun, the damage would prove That the only way to improve, was first to remove So we carried peoples lives, everything that they own Out to the curb, to the take away zone we tore down the walls, hauled the dripping insulation only stopped when forced to eat, by the neighbor’s donation slots of damage was done, many lost everything But all of the possessions, to which we usually cling Were quickly overshadowed, simply by love Strangers saving each other, a hand from above No payment needed for these hardworking souls No backdoor rewards, or swing in the polls Just that internal “feel good” that comes with doing what right that wakes us up in the morning, before the first light You picked the wrong state, if your looking for a fight No need for a bark, but fierce with the bite We will give you the shirt, right off our back Put our lives on the line, to pull up the slack Give you a ride, or pull you out of whatever your stuck in No heroes here, this is just the land of the CAJUNS The CAJUN NAVY extended far and wide in this beautiful southern paradise. But in our division, my wife Jessica was our Captain and driving force. I remember on Friday night we worked with the BRPD rescuing people from their homes until around 2:30am. I trailered the boat as we finished with one area in North Baton Rouge (Big Bend area). Our phones had both died (we started early that morning with no charger on the boat) but as soon as her battery came back to life, she had more people in need contacting her on Facebook and without question that is where we were headed next. She did not stop at that pace until Monday when she had to return work, She is an RN in the NICU at Women's Hospital (Saving sick babies lives as i call it). Her pace then moved to working 12 hour night shifts, sleeping a few hours before helping with peoples homes until it was time for work again. Shes an amazing woman and was truly fighting on the front lines of the Cajun Navy!
John Vincent, Nathan Morgan, Logan Morgan
— Submitted by Quincy Vincent, Prairieville
These guys went out for four days on the boat rescuing people. They helped whoever they could. A few they helped that were disabled with cerebral palsy, oxygen dependent elderly person, and amputee. They also reduced an elderly lady trapped in her attic. A few animals were also rescued(dog, rabbit, chicken). John kept going out of his boat even after a dog bite from a dog that broke the skin. Everyone was very grateful and kind to these guys. Thank you Louisianians
Martin Courville, Cory Scallan and Nick Luzier
— Submitted by Lewellen Kidder, Denham Springs
After getting a call from his sister in Watson telling him she was in trouble that the water was coming in fast and 911 could not help. He immediately got his boat called his brother in law Cory Scallan and went and got her, her husband the 3 children and 2 dogs. He also got a stranded dog that was on a table. From there he stayed all day picking up people. Each day he followed where the water was going for the next day he was in Walker on Buddy Ellis then the day after that he went to Walker South. Knees hurting, chaffed tired and hungry he did not stop. He gave out his phone number on Facebook and the calls he was getting were unbelievable. There was a lady trying to find him to say Thanks and it went viral. I also had a young couple to show up at my house looking for Martin Courville just to say Thanks. His favorite pickup was he picked up a child with autism it was raining hard Martin was fighting the current but the child was laughing and having the time of his life.
— Submitted by Kaitlyn Young, Prairieville
My hero is my amazing boyfriend, we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on august 13th and afterward he was still there for friends, family, strangers, and even animals to help as much as he possibly could. He said, "if that was us i'd want someone to help us." And he still came back to the hospital every few hours to check on the baby and I. He's an amazing man and helps others every chance he gets, not only during the flood, but everyday.
Mark Mancuso, John Firmin and Van Guarino
— Submitted by Luke Juneau, Greenwell Springs
During this tragic event that took place in and around the Baton Rouge area, Mark, John and Van took it upon themselves to help those who were in desperate need in the Central area. These young men launched a boat in the Frenchtown Rd area in Central and proceeded to rescue person after person, both young and old,starting Friday evening and going through Sunday. I was able to finally catch up to Mark, who is my nephew, and had him come eat at my house. While at my house we sat outside and he was telling me about all the incredible stories he had with these rescues. It was truly amazing and heart wrenching to hear his stories. Finally, at one point I simply asked him how he was feeling, since it was going on day three and they had barely slept or ate in those days. Mark simply responded by saying, "Uncle Luke I've never felt the urge to get up as early as possible to get out there and help in rescuing those people who were in need in a time like this!" I can tell you as his uncle I've never been so proud to hear those words from him. It really touched me. He even went on to say that those 3 days opened his eyes to becoming a fire rescue man. At 22 years old, Mark we are extremely proud of you and your buddies, in putting others who were desperately in need, before yourselves and helping in these trying times for the Baton Rouge area. Side note: I think these young men helped in rescuing well over a 100 desperate people. Thanks, Luke Juneau.
Mark Laiche, Kenny Laiche
— Submitted by Ty Mixon, Baton Rouge
This is my brother. First he helped me and my family evacuate in stages, and then, even as his home, the home we grew up in with our mother who passed away just over a year ago (so many memories), filled with over 5ft of water he went out with his other brother, Kenny, in a boat and helped pull strangers, friends, anyone who needed it, to safety. And now, he has to make the hard decision on if our family home is salvageable or not. I can't think of a better example of the selflessness of the cajun navy than he is.
— Submitted by Patsy Deaville, Baton Rouge
We watched as the waters began to rise early morning on August 13 suddenly realizing that we needed to move get our vehicles to higher ground, unfortunately it was too late for that and we had to return home. We called 911 to send someone with a boat to rescue us and our neighbors, but hours later we were still waiting hoping that they would get to us before the waters reached our homes in the Centurion Neighborhood. While standing on our front porch we see a young man (not part of the government) driving a bateau searching for people who may need to be rescued. We flagged him over and told him to pick up our neighbors first, when he came to get us he had a friendly smile and offered to help us get our bags into the boat and brought us all to higher ground. We tried to pay him for gas but he refused saying that he was happy just to be able to help us. I don't know his name but if he sees this story I hope he know how much we all appreciated his help that day.
Harold Quave, Miles Speyrer
— Submitted by Merrill Hess, Albany
I live near the Little Natalbany River in a flood zone X. The floor of my house is four feet off the ground and almost even with Highway 43. No one ever thought my house would flood. The river was already high and Friday night I thought the water level would surpass the record breaking March floods. I even thought it would rise a few more feet and reach the low parts of my yard. Thankfully, my wife was on vacation, so she did not have to face what was coming. At 2 AM Saturday morning, there was no water to be seen. When I awoke right before sunrise, water was just beginning to run under the doors. Within 20 minutes it was ankle deep inside. If the water rose that quickly, how deep would it get? I have a loft I could have climbed into but the river's current had shifted through my property. What if the house washed away and I was stuck inside? I could not reach anyone by phone except my vacationing wife to tell her I was abandoning the house. I had no idea whether relief was on its way. Ironically, my wife reached a neighbor who said a boat was on its way but I did not get the message on my phone till the following Saturday. I left my home to go to a neighbor's two story house, which we all thought was on slightly higher ground but the water was too deep and the current too strong. I decided to go through a small patch of woods to a field that leads to Highway 43, and use a fence to guide myself to the road. I grabbed and held onto trees and brush to pull my way through the chest deep water. Shortly after I got into the woods, I heard a boat coming down the road. I was able to wave them down to pick me up. It was a local commercial fisherman, Harold Quave, and a neighbor's son, Miles Speyrer. Harold's house was already flooded, yet here he was using his own boat and fuel to rescue people. He told me there was nothing he could to for his house so he might as well be doing something to help others. From what I can tell, Harold spent most of that day continuing to rescue people from their flooded houses. If these two boaters had not picked me up I am unsure now whether I could have made it to the highway or back to my house. I am eternally indebted to them and grateful for their heroic actions saving me and countless others that day.
James T. Smith, Larry Smith
— Submitted by Lauryn Smith, Baton Rouge
When I left for my job at Baton Rouge General Saturday AM, the river had rose higher than TS Allison at the end of Strain Road. I called my ex husband, Larry whom saved my dog before the water reached the yard. Then Larry got our son, and a boat that had no motor or paddle. All they had was a rope. Strain road is the only way into and out of our neighborhood of Lakepark. My sons girlfriend, Lexi Rodriguez also played a huge role. All day while I was at work, they acted fast to save things in my home, and rescued many stranded neighbors. We have lived there for 18 years and there are a lot of friends and even coworkers who live in our quiet little neighborhood. It hurts to know that so many lost so much, but I couldn't be prouder of these three.
— Submitted by Marcos Guerrero, Baton Rouge
From Day one Bett took his boat and big truck and went to help rescue people. Unfortunately no one was thinking on taking a pictures while he was helping other people.
Adam Guidry, James Runnels, Bryan Parker
— Submitted by Lisa Sanner, Baton Rouge
After rescuing Robbi and Kurt Bradford along with 5 other people and 2 dogs in Central, Adam, James and Bryan headed back into the water and rescued more than 75 thankful people.
— Submitted by Anne Cummings, Baton Rouge
Mark Polson is a neighbor and fellow parishioner at St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church. We had decided to stay in our home, but then our daughters called and insisted we leave. By that time the water was coming into our home. Our youngest daughter, Claire Delaune, who had flooded earlier told us to wait outside the house and someone would come get us. Another neighbor's brother came wading along and told us we needed to be at the corner so he helped us travel half a block through heavy currents between the houses. He sat us on a porch that was dry where we could wait and then waded off to see if there was anyone else that needed help. I wish I could have heard his name clearly. After he left, we called Claire and she said that she would call Mark who was helping with the "navy". Mark called us and said he would come and get us. We waited a while and then we saw someone struggling against the current towing something. It was Mark. He had found an aluminum skiff with a good rope and brought it to us. He knew at our ages (in the 70's) that we would have trouble wading through the current to the pick-up point so he put us in the skiff and then held on tight to it as he pulled us down to the where we needed to be. (At times he was in chest deep water.) Once there, he tied us to a tree where he had found the boat and called for the "navy". They came, loaded us in and away we went between houses and out to Jones Creek, with Mark, and another man and the boat captain. (I wish I knew their names.) Oh, by the way, we also had a soft carrier with two kittens in it! We were met at the landing on Woodlake in White Oak Landing by Claire and her friend Kari Roan. Kari and her husband, Eric, had taken Claire and her family in earlier and they took us in, too. We cannot say enough good things about the Cajun Navy. They are real and they are truly heroic.
Phillip Wheat, Steve Price
— Submitted by Alana Gore, Walker
Phillip is my stepdad and Steve is his friend. Phillip owns two airboats that he and Steve were operating. They rescued over 500 people from their flooded homes from Friday-Tuesday from daylight to the early morning hours.I live in Wolf Point subdivision in Walker. Around midnight, Saturday, August 13, we had to evacuate our home. All day on Saturday we watched the water around us recede, we thought we were in the clear. I had some family members that evacuated to my home from Denham Springs because their home had flooded. Little did they know that they were going to have to evacuated once again.Around 10:30pm Saturday, my neighbor called and stated that a subdivision down the street already had 3 inches in their homes and that we needed to get out while we could. I had some doubt because the water had receded almost all the way down.When I walked out, we could see the water rising all around us.I called my stepdad and his friend and they came to the rescue.Once they evacuated my family from my home, they returned and evacuated my entire subdivision.The only other way out would've been to swim out.Without heroes like them, there's no way all of the citizens in our parish and community would've made it out alive.I Thanks God for our Cajun Navy.I'm one proud daughter!
— Submitted by John Coghlan, Zachary
Brandon works night shift at Exon Mobile. He would work all night then leave work and go directly to rescue those who were flooded. He would return to work soaked with the flood waters and exhausted. He would shower at work and pull his shift at night and return to help the victims again during the day. What makes him a hero is through all of this his home was flooded as well. He would tell the stories and would be emotional when describing how his heart went out to all the victims that were flooded. He Wanted to help those that lost everything and had nowhere to go. To me he is a hero and proved to me the heart of someone that did all he could to help others when he was in need to be helped. His selfless act should be recognized!
— Submitted by Kimberly Guillory, Breaux Bridge
On behalf of my Pawpaw, I am sending in my family's submission. I am from Baton Rouge, and all of my family still lives there in Sherwood Forrest at Florida and Flannery. My parents, sister, and nephew had to flee their home in the middle of the night Saturday and barely made it out in my dad's truck. They lost everything, but safely made their way to Grosse Tete, to my pawpaws house. My aunt lives in Denham off of Range Ave and had to be evacuated via airboat on Saturday due to quickly rising waters, and was brought to a shelter somewhere in the Denham Springs area. We lost contact with her that night and was told that she may have been moved, but had no way to find her. Thanks to a Facebook post with her photo being shared, and after nearly 2 days of worry, she was located at another shelter in Walker on Monday, and someone was able to get her in contact with us. My friend Daniel Mayeux drove from Ville Platte with his boat in tow, and went and found her and and picked her up and brought her to a dry place where we could meet him. He also drove his boat around to rescue other people providing cold bottled water. These men and women who took it upon themselves to rescue complete strangers are truly hero's!!!
Tim, Aaron Bass, two other nice men, one nice lady
— Submitted by George Eldredge, Baton Rouge
I needed to get to a friend's elderly mother's house to get her and my friend's brother out. They had no power and the water was inside the house. Jars of honey had spilled in her flooded lower room and the bees formerly in her hives were swarming in the house. Her son (friend's brother) had 2 inches in his house raised many feet off of the ground. I went out there hoping to find help. By sheer coincidence I ran into Aaron, who I had worked with many years ago at the Louisiana Geological Survey. He had driven in to help out and we recognized each other after a few minutes. We launched at 12/Oneal, and moved towards Oneal. We couldn't get far due to the depth at that point (should have launched on the other side of Oneal). There were two boats in danger of capsizing in the intersection. Aaron and I helped them out, and another guy named Tim helped as well. After we got them safe, Aaron had to go elsewhere as he couldn't get me to where I needed but Tim said he had a boat. We got a lift from a guy in a white F-250 down to the intersection of Oneal and South Harrels Ferry. We waded a bit and caught a ride with a nice Vietnamese man who was ferrying people from one high point to another. He got us to the next ridge and Tim led me to his boat on the other side. From there we headed to my friend's family's place. With a bit of pushing we got them to leave (along with a crippled cat and blind/deaf dog). Tim was as patient as can be helping out. We got the cat into a carrier and the dog into a plastic tub....at which time he pooped all over. Tim took us as far as close as he could - the 12 on-ramp off of Oneal. From there we prepared to walk carrying the dog and cat and a few bags. A nice lady in a brand new GMC Envoy volunteered to drive us the half-mile or so to my car - even with the disgusting-smelling dog. She even gave us water. Turns out that they would have been fine in the end, but there was no way to know when getting them out. Without the help of these complete strangers, it would not have been possible.
Chad Pope, Robbie Sanchez
— Submitted by Pasha Sceroler, Denham Springs
To understand my story I should start from the beginning. I have lived in Denham Springs my entire life, in my current house for 17 years. We do not live in a flood zone so carry no flood insurance. I know people say that we should have known water was coming and evacuated, but that's just it…we had no idea! We lost phone service, cable, and internet on Thursday. Cell phone service was very spotty. Friday it rained all day but we still went to bed not ever thinking our house would flood. Saturday morning (August 13), at 7:00 am, my neighbor woke me up saying water was coming into our neighborhood. By 8:50 water was in my house. Chad Pope, who happens to be my cousin, was and still is my hero. He arrived at my house at 11:00 with his 93 year grandmother-in-law, whom he had rescued from waist deep water in her house. At that time water was 6 inches deep inside my house, 2 foot in my driveway. I was reluctant to leave my home, I think I was a little in shock. Chad gave me no choice. I grabbed a few of my belongings, he picked up my 100 pound, 12 year old dog, and loaded us in his boat. At the time I did not know Chad had already rescued 20 other people and brought them to safety, including his in-laws whom he rescued from their attic. In the end, we felt lucky to only get 16 inches of water in our home. Chad, his wife Tessie, and their 2 precious children welcomed us, along with 5 other people, into their home. They feed us, gave us a bed to sleep in and comforted us during our greatest moment of need. Chad and his family live in Denham Springs and they were among the few who did not flood. But the flood of 2016 affected each of them. I will be forever grateful for their generosity and love.
— Submitted by Betty Norton, Baton Rouge
I was shocked when I awoke on the morning of 8/14 to find my home sitting in a lake. I have lived in the "no flood zone" for 33 years with no flood problems ever, even during hurricanes (including Katrina). Standing in my driveway with water up to my knees, I did not know what to do. There was no way to drive out. My hero was Roy Osborne. He came out of know where. He had a boat. He pulled my daughter and me all the way to dry ground ---- about 2 - 3 blocks. Before he left to go back and pull others to safety, I thank him profusely and asked a little about him. He lived a street over that did not receive flood waters. He is a police officer. How wonderful ----- our police officers ---- serving on and off duty. Our men in blue are our best citizens!!! Thank you so much, Officer Osborne for coming to our rescue in our time of need. You made all the difference in our lives that day. May the good Lord always protect you and yours always. Thanks so much, again!!
Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office dispatchers
— Submitted by Lori Steele, Denham Springs
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office 911/Communications Center (Satsuma) flooded. Dispatchers - while handling an extremely high call volume - had to sandbag the building to keep equipment functioning. When water became too high, dispatchers had to physically relocate - in the middle of the flooding event - to a new location. Meanwhile, rescue calls continuing to pour in. 20,000+ rescues, 1 fatality. Thankfully, these dispatchers knew of the plan in place - set in motion by Sheriff Ard - and worked tirelessly to make sure it was a successful plan.
Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office deputies
— Submitted by Lori Steele, Denham Springs
Deputies were displaced during this flooding event. Some were hit a second time after being displaced following Katrina...but, you'd never know that because they won't talk about it. During this flooding event, these deputies - men and women - led the charge to save as many people as possible. 20,000+ rescues, 1 fatality. A miracle considering communication was down for many. Deputies had to rely on instinct when out in the field. From looking for taped 'HELP' signs on doors to coordinating efforts with other 1st responders and citizens to evacuate the medically fragile, they did it - non-stop. And, when shelters flooded - they had to evacuate folks again. Focus remained on saving lives. Now, these same deputies are working round the clock to eliminate looting, rebuilding their parish and rebuilding their own homes.
— Submitted by Lori Steele, Denham Springs State
During this 1,000 year flood, places that never flooded did. In the early hours of the night, emergency evacs had to happen, the LPSO Detention Center had to be evacuated, the LPSO 911/Communications Center had to be evacuated. And, calls for rescues continued to pour in. Sheriff had to make some quick decisions based on the greater good. And, when the call volume became overwhelming, he had to go into the field. His mission: find an entry point to get to Gray's Creek Elementary - a makeshift shelter for those trapped by flood waters in that area of the parish. No one could get in, no one could get out. Couldn't travel through by boat because water levels shifted. Could a high water vehicle make it? What was needed to get to and from 200+ trapped on an island, basically. Sheriff ventured on an hours long mission to figure that out. He successfully reached those at Gray's Creek - folks who were rationing food, some medically fragile - and devised a plan for safe exit.
Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Detention Center employees
— Submitted by Lori Steele, Denham Springs
During the recent flooding event, deputies working at the Livingston Parish Detention Center witnessed the flood waters seeping in. ~600 inmates had to be safely relocated to various detention centers in a timely manner. Lots of coordination. Lots of cooperation. The inmates were successfully transferred before road conditions would have made it impossible to make a transfer possible. Swift, deliberate, based on fact decisions - is what made this possible. Now, these same deputies - some who lost all - are tasked with getting LPDC in running order and getting inmates back home.
— Submitted by Kathy Madere, Baton Rouge
It was Saturday, the day of the Great Flood of 2016. Since our house never flooded before, we truly believed we would not flood. However, when water started seeping in the back of our house, due to the river overflow, we had to scramble and get out of our house! We had little time to leave; so my husband, Lee, my granddaughter, Sophie, and I made it to our boat under the carport. We also took our beloved dog Drew, with us. Our boat was not positioned to use at the time. Once we got in the boat we called 911. They said someone would come soon come to rescue us. In the meantime the rains continued and our street became a river with a strong current.We called 911 several times, as well as the Central Fire department, during our 11 hour stay in our boat. The height of the water outside of our boat was 23 inches.Finally the first responders came and rescued the two families across the street from us. As they pulled away, they called out to us, “We’ll be back soon for you!” I do believe they forgot about us with so many to rescue, because in the 11 hours we waited, and they never returned.We were finally rescued by Hank Martin and his friend (sorry I did not get his name). The two men, from Baton Rouge, were on a business trip in Houston when they heard about that fateful Saturday in Louisiana! They postponed their business and quickly bought a small boat and motor and headed back to Baton Rouge to help rescue those waiting for help.After an 11 hour wait in our boat, Drew started wagging his tail because he knew (instinctively) help was on its way! Mr. Martin and his friend rescued us at 3 a.m. and brought us to the front of our subdivision to wait for the airboat to bring us to safety. Then they went back to rescue many more stranded.The airboat finally came and took us to another transfer; a bus brought us Celtic Studios. We were there about an hour when my daughter came to pick us up and took us to her home. I thank God every day for Hank Martin and his friend who took out time from their busy schedule to help us.
— Submitted by Kayla Aucoin, Pierre Part
Rhett is an RN and was just getting off of work that Sunday morning when we received a phone call that my parents home was almost under water. What was even more scary was that our little girl, age 2, was with them and they had no way of getting out. He rushed to get his boat, then launched it in a ditch and was on a mission to get them. After he rescued our family, he went back to help numerous other people. I am so unbelievably proud of my husband for what he did for our family and others. He is definitely my Superman!
— Submitted by Jill Lowry, Baton Rouge
My son in-law came was out doing rescues for 3 days straight. He can and got me but he also got many of my neighbors and once he was done getting us to safety , He started going from Neighborhood to Neighborhood helping get as many people to safety as he could. He was tired and hungry but never stopped, Thank you to him and people like him we made it to safety. Words can never express how Thankful I am for Him
— Submitted by Kellie Grengs,New Orleans
When the flood waters rose quickly, several animal shelters flooded and the only option was to open kennels and let the animals swim for their lives. Many made it to roof tops or into trees, many didn't. Michelle received the call that animals were in distress and they desperately needed transportation to get them to vets for treatment. Michelle manages a small rescue Uptown New Orleans called Zeus' Rescues, she pulls from local shelters the animals that are facing euthanasia on their last day and rehomes them. She went into high gear! She reached out to a contact at Pelican Events. She had never driven a bus before, make that a tricked out party bus...put that on the bucket list as they loaned her a bus to transport injured dogs. Her volunteer rescue is caring for 225+ dogs and cats from 4 flooded shelters. She is truly a member of the Cajun Navy and grew up down the bayou. The animals had no voice in this disaster and she stepped in to be that voice and ensure they all received the care and compassion required of a hero.Rob Hetrick, Adam Phillips, Ernie Leblanc, Todd Russell
— Submitted by Paula Phillips, Greenwell springs
Rob Hetrick put his own safety at risk to coordinate the rescue of hundreds of handicapped and special needs flood victims at Bellingrath Hills Elementary throughout the day Saturday 8/13/16. He stayed at the school coordinating rescues until everyone was on higher ground.....nearly 20 hours. Adam Phillips stayed in Bellingrath subdivision at Landmor drive and Lake Vista assisting evacuees in getting in boats to escape the flood waters after they realized they could not stay in their homes. Adam assisted victims while he was a victim himself....along with Rob Hetrick...nearly 20 hours. Ernie Leblanc came to Greenwell Springs from Plaquemine, LA, and without hesitation, launched his boat and rescued hundreds of total strangers. I know this because I saw him launch his boat while I was waiting to get a ride from the fire station at donnybrook avenue and Greenwell springs road. Ernie is a co worker of mine. It was heartwarming to see him. Todd Russell took his bateau out and rescued victims in the Pride, LA area. When he received calls about young families trapped by flood waters he got in his boat and got them out.
Steve Uffman, Chris Eldredge and Becky Uffman Eldredge
— Submitted by Claire Delaune, Baton Rouge
On August 13th we thought our house in the Shadows at White Oak might get a couple of inches of water so our plan was to stay at my parents house which is in the same neighborhood but on higher ground. Around 3:00 p.m. we realized that my parents house was probably going to flood too. We heard from a neighbor that boats were rescuing people from the back of the neighborhood but we didn’t know where. We also didn’t know how high the water was on the back street or how fast the current was. My parents decided it was too much of a risk and stayed put but my husband, Brian, and I set out with our two boys Nate (7) and Reece (5). I put out a message on Facebook asking if anyone had a boat and could help us out. A friend of mine from grade school, Becky Uffman Eldredge, replied that her husband and uncle were in the area and could help us. At that time the boats were departing from Woodlake Drive in White Oak Landing and going up Jones Creek (the actual creek not the road). They could pull up to the back of the houses on the back street but they could not cross over onto the street. We could hear boats from where we were but we couldn’t see them. Steve Uffman pulled his boat up behind one of the houses and Chris Eldredge got out and walked into the flood waters to try and find us. He called me up on my cell phone and we were able to spot each other - we were about 6 houses down from where he was. A nice man named Skip came out of one of the houses and offered to carry our oldest son through the flood waters while my husband carried our youngest. When we reached Chris we had to wade through waist deep water (chest deep for my short self) to get to the boat. Chris let me hold on to him so I didn’t slip. A nice young man with a kayak ferried our bags to the boat. We reached the boat and Steve brought us swiftly and safely to dry ground. We were met at Woodlake Drive by so many kind people that helped us out of the boat. A young lady named Angela didn’t hesitate to grab our bags and walked with me and the boys to our waiting ride. She talked to my kids and made everything seem normal. (My husband went back to our neighborhood with Steve to help other people get out.) Every person that helped us was so kind to us but more importantly was so kind and caring to our kids. We kept telling our kids that this was just a fun adventure and we were going to be ok. Everyone we encountered helped solidify that idea for our kids and we will be forever grateful for that.
Johnny Dollar, Big $
— Submitted by Kim Hooper, Baton Rouge
Johnny Dollar, 38, Tugboat Pilot, Commercial Fisherman and licensed hair stylist.To say that Johnny knows his way around water would be an understatement. To say that Johnny has a big heart and is a pillar of the community is an even bigger understatement. Johnny has been around water since birth and took an economic interest in it about 20 years ago, receiving his most recent and significant Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) upgrade on August 8th, 2016 just in time for the rain to start early August 11th and flooding to follow on August 12th. On August 13th ~4AM, Johnny went to work piloting tugs and by mid morning Johnny knew that he would be using his frogging gear to rescue people stranded by the floodwaters since the state and federal efforts were too little and too late. Johnny piloted his tugs and prepared his rescue mission via social media and Louisiana Flood Rescue - August 2016 Facebook page. At 6:06 pm, one of Johnny's trusty steeds (aluminum boat) was saddled up and rolling out to his old stompin' grounds near Denham Springs from Prairieville. At 6:53 pm Johnny launched his boat in a ditch at 6492 Hancock Lane Denham Springs posted his location, his cell number and "text addresses" to Facebook with the Cajun Navy acquiring another Captain, with USCG credentials to boot. Mother Nature's horrors unfolded before Johnny's eyes, pictures did not do her fury justice and she was serious. Johnny had rescued 23 people by 7:51 pm then 56 people by 8:35 pm and over 70 people by 8:56 pm with his boat near I-12 & O'Neal and then Johnny just stopped counting. If Johnny were froggin he would be done, especially having worked a 12 hour shift, but he was saving lives and bringing peace to families ... he was exactly where he needed to be and he only wished he could do more. At some point the local fire department teamed up with Johnny and around 12:30 AM August 14th were rescuing near Old Hammond and Millerville in 7 foot of water. At 4 AM (24 hours after his day started) Johnny rescued the last person in that area and headed to trailer his trusty steed.By 2 PM August 14th the waters had risen in his hometown area (Prarieville, Galvez, Gonzales and St. Amant) and Johnny was at it again with his trusty steed pulling double duty as friends saddled up his other boat(s) and joined rescuing. The rescues were repeated on August 15 even though Johnny had to work a night shift and flood waters were threatening his house. More rescues continued August 16th and 17th with St. Amant and Sorrento flooded. During this time the state and federal response was picking up (but still overwhelmed) and some emergency responders/ officials were thwarting the Cajun Navy launch efforts but Johnny retorted to fellow Captains "pick a ditch, launch and get to work"... that moved Johnny up to Admiral of the Hwy 22 Cajun Navy at that point. Additionally, the Cajun Navy's from surrounding areas (Houma, Golden Meadow, Bayou Sorrel, Bayou Pigeon, Pierre Part, Dulac, Venice) were coming in to help and outnumbering the people needing rescuing which was a wonderful problem. As the rescues dwindled Johnny had time to reflect on the devastation to the state, his hometown and the Louisiana people, " The images I have seen over these last few days in my boat have been enough to not only humble me but also shake my soul. People losing everything. Picking people up out of the water and seeing them 9/14/2016 Cajun Navy Honorees 2/2 shake not from temperature but from exhaustion. Old folks that we literally had to put their wheelchairs in my boat then haul them into the boat to put them in their chair so exhausted they could barely hold their weight. Cops and fire fighters passing us with boats already loaded with people, screaming out addresses to us as we pass, of people trapped that they couldn't get on that trip. People breaking down crying knowing that they just lost everything except their life. Telling you that their neighbors are still in homes next to them with water rising only to have me have to say, "I got to get them on the next trip". Some that have been already waiting for hours for pick up. Not one of the people we picked up did I know personally. So many 'thank you's received for finally getting them to dry land. [That is] Totally soul shaking I tell you. This media coverage does no justice to what it looks like to spots you can only get to by 30 min boat ride to people that have been soaking wet for hours not knowing if some boat is going to ride by with room for them."My favorite is his reflections on the rescue help from the surrounding areas (including his own), "I am a local guy and tried my damnedest to find people that needed rescuing but out-of-towner's had already rescued everyone and they didn't even know the areas. It was just sooooo many people with boats. None of the people dragging boats down here got a penny for their work, only lost money by putting gas in the boats and trucks, wear and tear on their equipment. No clue of the areas or where to launch their boats without tearing their boat trailers up. No clue on what they would hit under water by their props. Miss Louisiana, you build some BADASS people and I am so freaking PROUD to call this place home.".Johnny Dollar is a true hero that embodies our Cajun Navy and decent humanity in general. His humility, his humor, his selflessness and his pride for Louisiana is why I am nominating Johnny to be honored.
Floyd Chategnier, Justin Cannon
— Submitted by Karen Dubois, Baker
While Floyd's own home was flooding he spent the day rescuing people in Willowwood Acres in Central. Since our home is elevated we thought we would be able to stay until flood waters went down. By 330 pm water was about to enter our home. Floyd and Justin came by in his bay boat and brought us to Gurney Road where a nice young man offered us a ride to Zoar Baptist Church. These men had been in the flood waters all day helping others to safety. Just want to say thank you to all the men and women who helped so many.
Joseph Bourgeois, Shawn Creppel
— Submitted by Chris Delatte, Denham Springs
On the day of August 13th my girlfriend and I decided we needed to get out of our first floor apartment on HWY 16 near Lockhart Rd. It was late and most of the evacuations had ended. We had a call for 3 different boats but none came. After awhile Joseph Bourgeois and Shawn Creppel showed up in there boat. They helped get ur four dogs and belongings in. Shawn had to pull the boat to turn in the strong current (See Pic). They took us over two miles in boat were we meet up with family. In all the chaos I never got there name. I had the pictures and video of the boat ride. I posted video and pics on Facebook on a Friday night. Over two hundred people shared the post and we found out who they were Joseph & Shawn. We wanted to give our thanks and gratitude by taking them to dinner. They were both humbled and declined.
Ben Eggart, Logan Landgrave and Robert Bernard
— Submitted by Ann Eggart, Broussard
Ben is Mechanical Engineering student at UL. When he took his boat out on Saturday morning, he had no idea he would end up rescuing over 100 people in Lafayette and along the Vermilion River. One of his first rescues was a family from New Hampshire staying at a local hotel, none of whom knew how to swim. I'm sure it's a vacation they will never forget. When he came home that evening, his boat was out of gas and he was wet and hungry. Before he had a chance to dry off, he was called back by Lafayette Fire and Rescue because there were still so many people stranded. After refueling, he took out again until the early hours of Sunday morning. He rescued the young, old, and those in between. All were carrying what few valuables they could grab. One lady was even toting her cat in a crawfish pot because it's carrier had floated off. It was a long, hard day and night, but he would do it all over again because it's just the right thing to do.
Bubba, Dustin and Derek Duvall and Mike Small, Joey Gilbert, Jeremey D'Amico
— Submitted by Anne Small, Watson
At 5 am sat. Morn I woke up to lisa duvall ....Aunt anne can you help donna she is trapped.....I ran out to jump in the car to go and ran into the river....Unheard of...The longest day of my life so far....Began....Frantic I got us all to mom's next door..Rolling brad's wheelchair through 3 ft.Of water...Praying...Please god..Give me the strength..Calling 911 for help every other second...No one coming....6 a.M, 7 a.M. 8 a.M surrounded by water....One dry spot in mom's living room....Brad's dog swam from our house to mom's to be with him...I can't let them see me panic.....I call my daughter, my sister...To tell them I love them...Always have always will....If we dont make it....Remember that...I see no way out...My daughter says....Don't give up mother, repeat after me....We are going to make it....I have help coming...We are coming to get you!!!!! Don't you give up. I look around me as we hang up...Things going thru my mind....Who do I let go of first....Dear god did I ever think these choices would come into my life...Mom first she is 94, then willie ....He is 70....Then I choke....Gag....Then hold brad up as long as I have breath......I gathered them all in one dry spot...We held hands and we began to pray....The lord's prayer....Then...We love you father....If we are all going together we commend our lives into your hands.....Or father...Send us a rescue boat. In jesus' name...Amen.........5 min. Later....The most beautiful sight in the world....A boat...And a smiling crew...I am crying they are grabbing us......Through the water and the current....First mother and then brad...Wheelchair and all, brads dog kellie goes next then willie, then me. Bubba duvall, derek duvall, dustin duvall and david ?.....You are amazing and god bless you so much forever. On the way out in the boat...Another boat....Willie's brother, mike, my son-in-law, joey and jeremy...Our nephew...Brigettes husband. The longest ride I have ever taken through the scariest water...Praying for that boat to stay up right. We get to hwy 16....I see my daughter, allison, my grandson, chantz, then bridgette, people like me stranded losing everything......People hugging.....Thomas hayman, jerry pace....People I don't even know.....Helping hugging......Then another harrowing ride with my daughter and bridgette both driving through scary water on roads, twisting turning......Now safe at last. Stayed with ronnie and 9/14/2016 cajun navy honorees 2/2 sylvia last night....Allison, kim and my precious siter laverne came for us this morning....We are at allison's......Mom now at lavernes.....We are safe....The challenge begins....God is with us...Praising the name of jesus....Yesterday...Today and forever! I know it's long but I am using allison's laptop to tell our story....It is one of many, many, I cry for us all, pray for us all....So many....So much loss.....A long road....We are ready to go forward with the help of our savior. Love you all, prays for each of you and may god bless you all.....Always.
Darren Madaffari, AJ & Hank
— Submitted by Gilda Madaffari, Baton Rouge
I would like to nominate my son Darren for his willingness to help those who needed help. I cannot give a detailed story on what he actually did, since he was the one who experienced the flood first hand, but the following is what he said was his schedule: "I was in White Oak Landing from 1pm to 8pm, Ponderosa (boat) from 12am till 6am, back-end of Woodland Ridge from 10am to 7pm, and Camelot from 7pm till about 9pm." He also had two friends who helped with these rescues - AJ and Hank. ".. Hank has a custom built Deuce and a Half Army Truck." He/they may not get recognition, since there were many volunteers who did a lot more than my son and his two friends, but I just wanted to tell people what a brave son we have and am still in awe of what he and his friends did. This is just typical of his character, always putting other people in distress first before himself.
Brandon Hutchinson, Blake Smith
— Submitted by John Dawson, Baton Rouge
My friend is a member of U.S.A.R. It stands urban search and rescue. It is an elite team made of specialist at the top of their divisions of local, state, and federal police and firemen. The days were all blending together when this event took place. They were deployed over a 4 days with no sleep so the exact day or time of the event might be a bit muddled. There were about 4 men of this group in a boat in the Park Forest Subdivision in Baton Rouge. There was dead silence as they were paddeling from door to door knocking on each as they were listening for any sounds from inside the houses. It was getting towards dusk and they were loosing light and couldn't see very well so they begged for silence from each as the went from door to door and window or whatever they could see or hear from inside each house. They would mark the houses if there was no response and pass it by. They came upon this certain house and they knocked loud and listened for any response. There was none. They marked the door of this house and paddled on. Blake Smith another member on this team suddenly turned toward Brandon and said" let's go back". Brandon looked at him funny and said " we didn't hear anything". Blake said" I know I just have this funny feeling ,lets go back". They paddled back to the house and knocked again and got no response. Blake looked at Brandon, Brandon got out out the boat into water and kicked down the door. There in front of them was an edelrly quadriplegic lady in a wheelchair on oxygen with water 1/4 inch below her mouth as she was gasping for air. They all grabbed her quickly and put her in the boat.I'm not sure what Blake was feeling but it got Brandon to respond. Brandon is the one I'm nominating because I know what he went through those treacherous days, but they all deserve recognition.
— Submitted by Melissa Adair, Winder, Ga.
Raheem, a 15 year old student from Baton Rouge, actively participated in dispatch activities and coordinated drop offs and relayed info to the Cajun Navy admin team all through the height of the rescue efforts. It wasn't until several days into operations that we learned Raheem was only 15 years old. He handled himself as an adult and demonstrated incredible reliability and follow through. He continues to demonstrate an amazing level of commitment to relief efforts as a volunteer at the Church at Addis and the Cajun Navy Foundation.
— Submitted by Melissa Adair, Winder. Ga.
Wendy worked tirelessly around the clock to dispatch info to the Cajun Navy admin team. She never took a break. In addition to working so hard to aid the relief effort, she constantly checked on the well being of others and offered encouragement and boosted spirits at a time when it was desperately needed. She is a good soul and continues to look out for others and lend her support to the Cajun Navy Foundation volunteer network. The world needs more Wendys!!
Ryan Taylor, Moe Moses
— Submitted by Callie Lips, Meraux
During the early morning hours of August 13th, we woke to find water already in our home in Baker, LA. The water was rising so rapidly that we had only minutes to gather a few belongings for our toddler. We contacted our neighbors, Trent & Elyse Swanson, who had a 7 month old baby, and began calling emergency numbers. We were advised that help had been dispatched. The need was so great there just weren’t enough rescue personnel to cover the far-reaching areas desperately needing help.After several hours of waiting, the water was knee deep and still rising. We realized we had to do something more than just wait so we reached out to a friend, Sandy Taylor, whose husband had a boat. She set the wheels in motion and without hesitation, Ryan Taylor and Moe Moses were in route from WBR Parish. They came with a sense of urgency, leaving their own families to rescue ours (including 3 siberian huskies). They were calm and reassuring as they took us to higher ground at Plank Road where friends and family were helplessly waiting. As we boated down Ruston Drive, we encounted many other stranded neighbors. Ryan & Moe assured them they would return. Time after time they went back to rescue complete strangers. Thanks to their quick response, bravery and compassion, countless people in our community were rescued that day. How do you thank someone for that? I am not sure, but I am certain that I will be forever grateful.
— Submitted by Sharon Rami, Baton Rouge
Dexter Green was one of the first to get out and help Mr. Willie with the rescue of the residents on Blvd De Province. Dexter was diligent in guiding and riding in the front of the boat for Mr. Willie to make sure there was no debris and that the path was clear from trees , fences for the boat to maneuver through the flooded streets to rescue people that weren't able to get out of there homes. He is in every clip shown with Mr. Willie during recuse efforts.
Benjamin Farrell, unknown
— Submitted by Bill & Cherie Brumfield, Baton Rouge
Our Cajun Navy hero, Benjamin Farrell, arrived with two others in his boat ( names not known) to rescue us off our back deck Sunday after our S. Harrells Ferry Rd subdivision street had turned into a raging river with white cap currents that had prevented others from being able to rescue us. We had given up rescue hope and were preparing ourselves for living in @ 2 ft nasty water when heard the call "anyone needing rescue or help ?" coming from our backyard where Mr Farrells' team had grabbed our iron fence to hold the boat against the strong current. We grabbed prepacked bag of change of clothes & necessities & raced outside having to climb over our wood deck fence to get into the boat and off we went through flooded subdivisions and down Jones Creek (now River) for safe deposit on O'Neil near George O'neil Lane. But to my misery we discovered my small suitcase with its dry clothes & comfort items had been left behind on our back deck island. Dont worry I'll go back & get it to you Mr Ferrell related - and within an hour he did return with others they had rescued and my blue bag. What a relief to not only be safe & sound away from that raising turrent but also to now even have dry clean clothes to change into. Thank you forever Benjamin Ferrell & crew - We are so Louisiana Proud & eternally grateful !!!
Donald Melancon, Benjamin Guy
— Submitted by Lainey Franklin, Denham Springs
On Saturday August of 2016 Benjamin Guy, fireman of Denham Springs Fire department, was trying to cross the 1-12 overpass to make it back to his department. The water was so high and the current was so swift that boats could not pass under the 1-12 overpass in Denham Springs. Benjamin was able to ride on a military high water vehicle to attempt to ride as far as possible to get on to the top of the overpass in hopes of making it back to his station/co-workers. The high water vehicle contained a truck load of passengers. The military personnel was making his way onto the 1-12 ramp when the current at the time was so strong that it pushed the high water vehicle into the ditch before they were able to get onto the ramp. This is when Ben was able to climb out and cut a square into the top of the roof of the vehicle to lift passengers onto the roof . The military personnel radioed for help. Water was rushing into the bed of the truck and they did not know how they were going to be rescued. Donald Melancon, Cajun Navy, came out of nowhere in his personal boat and made multiple trips through the swift water. He brought passengers to an empty bed of an 18 wheeler that happened to be nearby. Eventually the passengers were brought to dry land. Benjamin still being stuck in that area came upon a rescue team the very next Morning. Benjamin and Donald ran into each other shortly after; due to Donald staying overnight in the area helping others. This team had information about a high water vehicle that was carried off of 4-H club road and the team informed Benjamin and Donald about it. Donald, the team, and Benjamin went and rescued the people off the high water vehicle. Donald was rescuing people from Saturday till that waters crested and receded. Donald Melancon, Cajun Navy Hero, was able to rescue many people during that time period. Without people like Donald Melancon many would of been in a far worse position than what they were in. Thank you to all of those that were there during this horrific time.
Barney Eubanks, Howell Addison
— Submitted by Melanie Canova, Baton Rouge
August 14,2016 is a day that we'll never forget. It all started with a phone call from my neighbor. As I wasn't fully awake, I realized that she had left a message. She said "get up, get your bags packed, we have to get out of here. We're flooding." When I got up the water was already up to my back door. Freaking out, I packed a few things and packed my cat in her carrier and went outside. That's when I realized I wasn't driving anywhere. There was a boat with three negihborhood guys ( I didn't get their names...but Thank You) getting my neighbors out. They didn't have room for me. So I begged...just please don't forget to come back for me. And they did. It was there that I met up with my neighbor, Mrs. Merle Cooper. They brought us up to the next street over in our neighborhood and we thought we were safe. About a hour into it we noticed the water was starting to come down this street and it was moving fast. I was the only one to have Verizon service, but I still wasn't able to call anyone, so I got on Facebook. I put our address and asked to be rescued. We had ederly and disabled people. Within minutes Grant Parish Sherifff's deputies Barney Eubanks and Howell Addison showed up in a boat and rescued us. We talked along the way...they said that they had been rescuing people since Friday. We thanked them again for rescuing us. Our adventure was not over.... we rode in the back of a military truck and a schoolbus until we arrived at Celtic Media. We were walking in when Mrs. Merle's son showed up and rescued us yet again and brought us to her sister's house. I have to say Mrs. Merle was a trooper through it all. Had it not been for her I probably would have been upset as others, but I wasn't. I had to take care of her and our kitties, Sugar and Fergie.That day everyone helped everyone, no matter what ... That's the way it should be everyday. Thank you to all of our Angels!
Lilly Powers, Grandpa, Yves Poret
— Submitted by Yves Poret, Baton Rouge
On Sunday 14 August my 15 year old, 110 pound granddaughter, Lilly Powers, and I launched my 17 foot "Cajun" Special off of Florida and made trips Southward down into Flannery. We made several trips with 8 other people in our boat and some with less. Every time I had to pull the motor up due to shallow water, Lilly got out and pulled the boat to deeper water. I got out one time to help her when we were grounded and after about ten minutes my legs were numb. She did it all day. Now I know I am old, actually 61 years older than her. She was wonderful with our flood victims, getting them in the boat and really listening to them and talking with the children. We had a wonderful time and received so many thanks. We would have gladly gone back the following days but did not know where to go to launch. We are not heroes just good Louisiana neighbors.
Chad Brady, Brandon Fayard, Ed
— Submitted by Carolyn Brady, Port Vincent
The people listed above spent every day during the flood and after the flood rescuing, transporting people back and forth, helping demo homes, and feeding the people of our town. Alaine Fayard and her daughter Brooke Fayard opened their Cafe, Scivicque's Cafe, every day giving meals to people that were flooded and had no place to go or any food to eat. Even though some of these people had damage to their own homes, or lost their houses they still went out and helped everyone and anyone they could. Once everyone got word that there was someone headed to Parker's Supermarket having a heart attack Brandon Fayard, Ed "Butch" Jenkins, Rickey Carpenter, and Preston Sandy all rushed to help. The police officers, first responders, fire department, Mayor David Carter, and alderman Gary Brady and Johnny Paige were out and about everyday and every night during and after the flood helping anyone they could. From dawn to dusk these people were doing everything they could to help. The village of Port Vincent can not thank these people enough and we are so blessed to have a town like this. Port Vincent is more than a village, we are a family.
Zach Templet, Daniel Clark
— Submitted by Tammy Templet, Slaughter
Zach is my son and he went out to rescue people from their homes, when his home was 2 inches from getting water in it. He spoke about everyone appreciating what he was doing. Daniel is my son in law and he went out the first day the water started rising. He said that he was the first response for a lot of people. He was in the Frenchtown area. He arrived at one home and the couple was in the attic, so he had to swim to them and then give them his life jacket for them to get out.
— Submitted by Katie Pate, Baton Rouge
My husband AP (as he's been called since highschool) was in the middle of working a turnaround at Dow when the devastating flood turned our lives upside down. Despite working 12 hours the night before, AP knew that people needed help and they needed it ASAP. Battling rising waters, he drove his humongous (and lifted) GMC truck all the way to St. Francisville to get his dad's boat. Because of his compassion and selflessness he was able to single-handedly rescue several flood victims. my husband did this all on his own, with no help. Just a man and his boat.
Mike Camponella, Ryan McGuigan
— Submitted by Becky Maus, Greenwell Springs
My husband and I built a house about a year and a half ago in the Woodstock subdivision in Central. We previously lived in Bellingrath Hills for 29 years and had never experienced any flooding. We take care of my husband's disabled mother and father in our home and felt fairly sure when we went to bed Friday night that we would wake up to a soggy Saturday morning, but nothing more. By noon on Saturday, it was obvious that the water was rising so fast, we wouldn't be able to stay. My mother in law is in a wheelchair, and our next door neighbor Shyrone Wells came to assure us that the word was out on the street (river!) that a boat would be directed our way as soon as possible. We had never met Mike Camponella because they were one of Woodstock's most recent residents. When he showed up at our door with his boat, he became our new best friend! It was very difficult to maneuver my mother in law from our door, through the water, and into the boat with no wheelchair and no walker. He took great care in helping to ensure that she and my father in law were steady and settled before taking off down the street. When we neared the entrance to the subdivision, Mike and Ryan McGuigan, another neighbor we'd never met, assisted in lifting my mother in law onto the tailgate of a pickup truck. Ryan could see my fear in transporting any farther, as we were told it would take about an hour and a half to reach the Central Thruway by alternating boats and trucks. He assured me that his house was on very high ground, still had electricity, and that we were welcome to stay there. Both of these men, along with many others in our area, continued to serve as angels on earth, tirelessly evacuating our neighborhood as well as others along the way. Ryan was true to his word--no water and never lost power, but Mike's house did not fare so well. We will continue to "pay it forward" with these fine individuals for a long, long time.
Jesse Nunnery, Joe Skiles
— Submitted by Elizabeth Skiles, Baton Rouge
My husband Joe and our next door neighbor Jesse wanted to help our best friend's family who were trapped at Old London Towne Apartments. Jesse has two four wheelers and he said lets go and see how far we can get. The family they were going to rescue was a disabled woman in her late 70s and 2 adult children with some disabilities. Jesse and Joe go to Millerville, since O'Neal Lane was blocked off. They were allowed to drive down I-12 to the O'Neal off ramp but only to the beginning of the off ramp. You could see the flood water moving through the AMC movie theatre parking lot. They get the four wheelers as close as they can and then get in a boat. They get to the very back of the apartment complex, where the family lives. They get the mother out by pushing her in her walker through the water, to get to a boat and then load her onto the four wheelers and then drive her to the truck. All of three of the adults were rescued. Then Jesse and Joe went back to help rescue more people because there was such a need. This was Saturday night when the waters started coming up so fast. I do not know how many people they rescued that night but they were our heros.
Craig Jeansonne, his son
— Submitted by Keith Leaphart, Walker
We opted to stay with our neighbors in the second story of there home as the waters rose Saturday night. When we looked out Sunday morning our homes were 3-5 feet deep in water. About 5:30 am as we were trying to decide how we would get out with 4 adults and 3 children and 2 dogs plus our suitcases, we saw a boat coming toward our house. We were at a dead in in the back of our subdivision and the only ones left. The boat stopped and said he could take us all out if we wanted to go. We piled in and were taken to the staging area on Hwy 447 in Walker. Craig, our rescuer, had to fight the current as he boated us down Pendarvis to Pleasant Ridge and Brian Park Rd. Craig said his house was very close to taking in water but he left and came to rescue complete strangers! Thank you, Craig and son.
Tony Garcia, Gage
— Submitted by Celeste Dawson, Denham Springs
Thank you to Tony & son, Gage Garcia! On Sat. Aug. 13, 2016 as the water rose to waist high in our home in Denham Springs, myself & my 3 small children waited patiently & calmly while my brother's boss & family friend, Tony Garcia, made his way to us with his teenage son, Gage, to rescue us. They also rescued a 92 y/o neighbor & her daughter. They drove through scary levels of water & the wrong way up I-12 (we got permission from an officer) to get us to our next hero, my brother, Luke Savoie. We drove for 2.5 hours through rapids of water along Hwy 16 in the dark of night...the kids in life-jackets, no seat belts in case we got swept off the road. White knuckled riding the center line b/c the grooves along the center line were the only way we could assure we were on the road which we could not visibly see. My heroes!
Kevin Rogers, Glissman family and neighbor Rhonda
— Submitted by Jocelyn Gerard, Central
I am an 89 year old female, who lives by myself. I have difficulty with mobility due to neuropathy in my lower extremities. On Friday evening, August 12, 2016, my daughter called me to inform me she and her husband were flooded in her subdivision off Thibadaux Rd, in Central. I told her there was no sign of water in my subdivision, I was fine. I was surprised the next morning, at approximately 7:00 a.m., when my neighbor and her son were on my driveway - there house was already taking on water. My neighbor, Rhonda, had already called for an evacuation, we were unable to get out by car. This is when, I began to be concerned about how I would escape the flood safely. I was in my house, my oldest daughter was calling to check on us about every 30 minutes. My daughter was able to get a number in Central that I was able to call and inform them that my neighbor and I were waiting to be rescued. I was told by the man answering the phone that he would put us on his list, he expressed how there were so many people waiting for rescue and they would get to us when they were able. I told him I knew they working working hard to save everyone. Both of my daughters had placed the information on Facebook - that their mother needed to be rescued. The water continued to rise in my house and around 11:30 we decided we may need to go to the attic. Normally, I would not be able to make it up the stairs to the attic, but I felt with assistance of my neighbor and God I would get up there to save my life. Thank God, at around 1:00 p.m. with approximately 2.5 feet of water in my house an angel appeared at my house, Kevin Rogers, in a boat to take us out. I called my daughter and told her they were taking us to the Central Thruway, could she get someone to pick us up. My daughter told me get to the Thruway and we will find someone to get you. I do not know the names of the other men who helped me get out of the boat and climb up to the Thruway. My daughter was able to contact a friend of ours, Tina Glissman, and she and her two daughters Jena and Jade came to pick me up. The Glissman's house had flooded as well and they were staying with Tina's mother Chris who graciously took me in. I stayed with the Glissman's until my younger daughter could get me 2 days later. Jena and Jade are two children that I took care of since they were 6 weeks old, they were a bright light in this time of darkness. I am so grateful to my neighbor Rhonda and the Glissman family, but most of all I want to Thank God for sending his angel Kevin Rogers and his boat. With out them I do not know I would have made it out safely. I have lost a lot of personal items, including momentum's of my son who died more then 50 years ago, however, I know the most important thing I have is my life to continue to enjoy my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Thank you Kevin - may God Bless you and your family.
— Submitted by Jerry Piper, Baton Rouge
Shane Marchand is one of those rare people who is always doing for others, the guy changing a tire for someone on a busy interstate highway, offering help to those less fortunate, volunteering first when help is needed....I could go on and on, but that is his character. It sets him apart from the crowd and when it became apparent that the masses of people who needed to be rescued, he hooked up his boat to his truck and headed out to see what he could do. Shane ended up in the Sherwood Forest/I-12 corridor and spend most of his day rescuing residents of the Woodland Ridge and Afton Oaks subdivisions and areas close by. He has stories connected with the rescue including one from a resident he thought needed to be rescued and after boating to his front door was told by the resident that he was moving his boat down the street and should be aware that that was a boulevard and he needed to stay on the correct side of the boulevard. Shane worked closely with the sheriff's department and wildlife and fisheries and boated as directed during the day enduring strong currents and other obstacles knowing that he had a job he had to do. Shane is one of hundreds who sacrificed their time, left jobs and risked their safety so that thousands could be carried to safety. I pause today (9/11) to salute Shane and the other members of our Cajun Navy which will surely go down in Baton Rouge history.
Corporal Myles Carrere
— Submitted by Rayne Carradine, New Orleans
When I heard that disaster had struck and things were grim in Baton Rouge, I left New Orleans at 1 a.m. on Monday, August 15th. I towed a rescue boat and met up with a fellow Marine that I served with in the Corps. He had already lost everything he owned, and the water was starting to rise in his mother's neighborhood. One of the crazier situations that made me pretty nervous occurred when we were just off of the Amite River with the current moving faster than 10 knots. We were forced to maneuver our boat between trees, telephone poles, power lines and underwater obstacles just to reach some people who did not want to be rescued, but accepted the fresh drinking water we offered them. Later, we rescued a woman with her son and their dog along with a pet rabbit. They were running out of supplies and couldn’t find the rest of their family. We also rescued a young couple during that run. We coordinated with Ascension Parish Sheriff's and LDWF Agents to do as much as we could and they were a great help. We commuted back and forth from New Orleans after reaching out to friends and family to collect much needed supplies. It was an honor to help my fellow Louisianians and to witness the Cajun Navy hard at work!
Johnny Sanchez, his young son
— Submitted by Valerie Heroman, Baton Rouge
The creepy thing about the 2016 flood was that it was silent. At dawn on Sunday morning, August 14th, the muddy water came up to our townhouse's front door. The street was already flooded. My husband and I quickly packed an overnight bag, and with our little dogs, Charlie and Teddy, we slowly drove out of our flooded garage and into the flooded street of our neighborhood, Shadowbrook. It is not in a flood zone. Well, till now. We made it to stay with our friends nearby in Woodland Ridge, also not in a flood zone. An hour later, about 7:30 a.m., the power went out, and we went outside to the street, alongside the other neighbors with their coffee mugs, unbelieving. We all saw the flood water from Jones Creek approaching, creeping down the street, over the curb, covering the sidewalk and the front yard grass. Then the water got deeper and the current was visible. Woodland Ridge Boulevard was flooding too, like never before. In just four hours, the muddy flood water filled the street and covered the grassy median, and the houses across the street began taking on water. We were terrified. It was too deep to drive out. We were stranded now. We received a text message from our daughter, Jenny, that she and Uncle Ricky were coming from Gonzales to get us out. We were rescued by Johnny Sanchez with his motor boat. He was our one true Hero! He had left his home in Plaquemine, Louisiana, to come and help people out of the goodness of his heart. He rescued people from high water in Woodland Ridge with his boat, then went back for more, over and over again. Johnny brought our daughter Jenny and her Uncle Ricky from South Harrell's Ferry Road to where we were stranded. He waited while we waded through the knee-high muddy water, across the street and flooded median, under the beautiful oak trees now standing in dirty water. We struggled with the rushing current, carrying our suitcases overhead, and clutching our little dogs closely. The strong current pushed against us, and it nearly made us fall down. Johnny patiently waited for us to make it to his boat, and then he and his young son greeted us and helped us get into it. My husband and I finally felt a sense of safety with this rescue. He piloted his motor boat north along the flooded boulevard, returning to South Harrell's Ferry Road, where Uncle Ricky's huge "monster truck" was waiting for us, and we had a safe place to go next. As we got out of his boat, we thanked Johnny (and his young son). He was good. He was kind. He was generous. And he smiled. He wore a gray shirt that day that read: BON VOYAGE. Sure enough, we had a good voyage with him! Then, he went back to rescue more stranded people like us. The flood was silent. Our Hero's boat had a motor, and it hummed as it churned up the muddy flood water in the street, taking us out of danger. What a wonderful, comforting sound that day! Our Hero, Johnny Sanchez, had saved us!
Joni Rushing, Nicole Andrews, Brandon Casse
— Submitted by Louise Jeter, Baton Rouge
My nomination Joni Rushing, Cajun Navy Dispatch Christopher’s account retold by Louise Jeter (grandmother in Baton Rouge) Saturday, August 13, 2016 The Flood of 2016 Central, LA Rescued: Amy Gonzales and her children, Isabella Joyce (13) and Christopher (8) and dog Lucy Heros: Joni Rushing, Cajun Navy Dispatcher, responded to Louise’s Facebook post that her family was desperate for a rescue in the Northwoods area of Central. Her contact with Nicole Andrews and Brandon Cassels, Cajun Navy friends in the field, brought their boat to Amy and her family. Mr. Cassel’s son and Mike Duplesis in a side by side assisted. Christopher tells, I will never forget it. We had just moved to Central and spent four nights in our home. It rained a lot. On Saturday I was playing outside when my mom said, ‘a wall of water is coming from the front of the neighborhood’ and very quickly the water was too deep for us to get out in my mother’s car. The water was then coming from a canal in the back of our house, too. It started to come into our house. My dad was out of town in his truck. We called for a rescue, but no one had come. It was getting dark. Most of the neighbors had left, but didn’t have room for us in their trucks. Some of the neighbors were on their roofs. We were getting scared. Then my Grammy Louise got her wonderful friend, Joni Rushing, to help get us a boat. The rescue boat with kids and dog was pushed out by Nicole and Brandon. Mrs. Rushing not only arranged our rescue, she drove to Demco to wait for us and made sure we got to a safe place. The entire time she was texting and coordinating with all the people involved. We finally were able to get to my Grammy’s house. We were safe and hungry.” Other notes: Brandon’s home flooded while he was out rescuing. Joni Rushing, Nicole Andrews, and Louise Jeter all work for the Central Community School System.
— Submitted by Alissa Viscardis, Baton Rouge
Jimmy is with the fire department. He waded down my street telling everyone they needed to leave and go to Chase bank on O'Neal Lane. After my 2 kids and I got our suitcases we began walking to Chase bank. I was carrying our big suitcase on my head to keep it out of the water. I didn't make it very far because the suitcase was really heavy. Jimmy came over and took my suitcase. He then led us to the middle of Riverdale Avenue. He told us to stay right behind him. As we walked I thanked him and apologized for him having to rescue us. He said it was OK that he had been doing it all day and that's what they're here for. He was going first to make sure we didn't trip on anything and to keep us safe. As we turned and headed to Chase bank he made us aware of where the curb was so we wouldn't trip over it. We eventually made it across O'Neal to the dialysis center. There was a woman there crying. I asked her if she was OK. She said she had 3 dogs at home and couldn't get to them. I walked over and asked Jimmy if he could help her. He told me some people would be coming and going through the neighborhood to get pets, etc. Jimmy was very calm and very helpful. He made me feel safe as we were wading through the water.
Tutti Vicknair, Dalton "Tutti" Vicknair III
— Submitted by Kim Hooper,Baton Rouge
Cajun Navy Honoree Dalton "Tutti" Vicknair III, 39, Plant Worker In the mist of all the sorrows and tragedies that had befallen Louisiana in July of 2016 the Flood of August 2016 deepened the tragedy but erupted Louisiana's pride. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes to avenge all wrongs the Cajun Navy rose from the flood waters to rescue their fellow neighbors and citizens, to mend and solidify a state that had been ripped apart by hatred. Tutti was a part of that selfless solidarity even though his safety and his family were at risk. On August 12th just after 11:30 PM I saw Tutti post a picture on Facebook pranking his sleeping son with an air horn. By 3:38 am August 13th, the flood waters had risen, pranks were over and Tutti sprang into action posting a picture of a big army convoy vehicle with a snorkel and " I have a HIGH WATER recovery unit if you need help getting to dry land CALL ME [cell phone number]. I can go through up to 7ft deep water .Chris Wagley and I will be out and about at daylight." They started out at South Point abd around 7:40 AM he headed to Holden to rescue the 100's of people trapped in their houses. Unfortunately, by 11AM the flood waters overtook the army truck and they had to be rescued themselves. It broke Tutti's heart not to be able to rescue more people with the truck. He could see the suffering and the need and just wanted to save everyone even if it meant risking his safety. Tutti had this to say about their efforts, "With Chris Wagley and Eric Brown yesterday on our rescue mission in the military truck, it ended up with us being also rescued as well, but we did save a bunch of people and animals which was the reason we came down. I can not begin to describe the destruction that we have seen and the pain that I felt yesterday seeing the loss of so many with pure disgust and confusion on so many faces. 100's of people we trapped calling Chris and I. This is just as bad as Katrina or worse I will say without hesitation. Also, I have never seen so many people come together as a community to help one another. Yesterday I learned a lot about myself and I found a man with a heart as big as mine. Chris you are also a very caring and giving man and no one can take that trait away from you. We were also stranded but still helped save a elderly blind woman with a boat, she started to cry while saying, 'she didn't know where she would go or what she would do'. At that point, I also broke down and reality set in that this parish and these people will have a long road ahead of them. I have no doubt they will over come this." Tutti also observed, " In the mist of all of this today, I noticed one thing that many may have not noticed. "I noticed that there were no black, no white, no races, no genders, no hate and no greed all while everyone helped or were being rescued. It made me smile seeing this, but then it made me cry at the same time knowing that this is what it took." 9/14/2016 Cajun Navy Honorees 2/2 A flooded truck did not stop Tutti nor did flood waters rising towards his house. At 6:10AM on August 15th Tutti was back at it , teaming up with Johnny Dollar (my other Cajun Navy Honoree) to go save people stranded in Galvez, Gonzales and St. Amant areas with his Louisiana Pride was overflowing just like the rivers and canals. Tutti posted, " Heading out to meet my lil' brother Johnny Dollar to go help the weak and vulnerable today, just passed Faith Tabernacle on Airline Hwy and it is also packed w boats and people ready to help... there isn't any other place in the world like Louisiana." At 4:06PM on August 15th Tutti posted the awful news that some his family had to be evacuated because of the flooding and water was still rising near his family home had to be evacuated nor water flooding his house. His rescue efforts focused on his friends and neighbors. At 9:22PM Tutti posted a picture their family and their flooded house with these words to his wife, " Lakeshia, We MAY have lost this old home depending on how much higher the water went up and some of its contents, but at least we still have our family and good friends, which are far more valuable to us than all else in the world. This has been a very humbling last 5 days with many more to come, but the unity I've seen for the most part has been incredible. Thank you to Joshua Crawford for the place to lay our head and all else whom has offered to help us in any way. We don't have much right now, but if my family can help yours in any way we are here for y'all still". Tutti Vicknair is a true hero that embodies our Cajun Navy and decent humanity in general. His humility, his humor, his selflessness and his pride for Louisiana is why I am nominating Tutti to be honored.
— Submitted by Marna Manning, Baton Rouge
Garrett and his brother used their boat to knock open front door and found elderly Vietnamese couple. Wife was invalid. Husband was trying to keep her head above water so she wouldn't drown. Garrett was able to rescue couple with only minutes left before they both would have drown.
Rob Adams, Darren Cook
— Submitted by Dina Bonnecaze,Baton Rouge
I would like to nominate Rob Adams as my hero. Through a friend of a friend, I was sent this picture of Rob Adams. He is carrying my 77-year-old mother from her house in Denham Springs on Cooper St near Tate Rd (across from the produce stand on Range Ave). This was done on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2016. My nephew Darren Cook attempted to rescue my mother on Saturday as the flood waters were rapidly rising. He was struggling with holding on to my mother, her suitcase and my nephew's dog while wading/swimming thru flood waters. This hero saved the day by helping my nephew with my mother. My family and I were trapped in the 2nd story of our home in Central. My sister, Debbie Averett, was trapped off Lockart in Denham Springs at her flooding house and neither of us could get out to get to our mother. Rob Adams is our knight in shining armor. I have to believe that with his help, my nephew, Darren Cook, was able to get our mother to safety. I want to thank them both from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I would do without this woman. I love her more than life itself.
Tim Tullier, Tristan Tullier
— Submitted by Deborah Martin, Baker
Our Cajun Navy hero's are Tim and Tristan Tullier. My husband, son and myself decided to stay put at our home when the prediction of all the rain was forecast. Our property backs up to the Comite River, but our house is a little higher than a lot of the houses around us. We knew it would take a lot of rain before we flooded. Well, a lot more rain than expected fell. So we watched as the waters rose around our house and by early hours of the morning on Saturday, August 13, 2016 we decided the rain was not stopping and the waters were rising and the current was strong. Not realizing how high the waters had gotten, we decided to call a few people to see if they could come and get us. It was 2 in the morning and still dark, but no one was even able to get to us because all the roads around us had already flooded. My husband called the fire department, one department was flooded in and the other department was able to get to us but since the roads were flooded and they were rescuing people they could only remove us from our house and bring us to a close area where it had not flooded yet. So we would of had to stand in the dark and in the rain until daylight, until we found someone who was able to get through the flooded streets to us. So we decided we would wait in the house with electricity until daylight. Around 6 in the morning, we started making phone calls to see who had a boat and could come rescue us. Still, no one could get to us. My sister in law had heard our neighbors had been rescuing peogle in our area. We were so happy to hear someone could finally get to us. We knew it was not easy to get a boat in the water must less keep in going in the strong current. We watched answer waited until we finally heard Tim and Tristan coming in their boat. After waiting hours and even thinking we could brave the snakes and the current by walking out, but decided it was too dangerous. We were finally being rescued!! We were so relieved!! They came and helped us get a few bags and our three dogs and brought us to their house. While there Tim's wife was helping all the people her husband and son were going out and risking their lives saving. We stayed there 5 hours while they were rescuing more and more people. They opened their home to complete strangers and tried to make everyone as comfortable as they could. These are some amazing selfless people! Finally after 5 hours they came back and picked us up in their boat and we took another 15 minute boat ride down the flooded Comite street to safety. I think they ended up rescuing about 100 people and their animals in two days! We can never thank them enough for their great heroism!!
Henry Bel, The Deuce
— Submitted by Darren Madaffari, Baton Rouge
What started out as a Mechanical Engineer and Website Designer just looking for another fun engineering project, became the tool that rescued several hundred people from the rising flood waters, including his own family and even myself. After spending 6 hours in my boat in Ponderosa neighborhood rescuing people (12am to 6am Sunday morning), my friend AJ and I found ourselves trapped by the rising water on Old Hammond and Millerville. When we parked there was no water in that lot and when we went to leave 6 hours later, the water was nearly waist deep. Not being able to get the truck, trailer, and boat out and only having 3% battery left on my Verizon phone, I text my dad to let him know where we were (in an effort to get help) and then text Henry (I know him as Hank) to see if he could come get us. Hank spent the better part of 5 years restoring and upgrading a Deuce and a Half Military Truck, more commonly known amongst peers as "The Deuce". (http://hanksdeuce.com) Although the thought may have occurred in the back of his head that this truck's ability to traverse 7ft of standing water may come in handy one day, I don't think it truly became a reality until the Great Flood. After several attempts to contact him at 6:30am that Sunday morning, I finally got a text back saying, "I am on my way". The mere thought of that text still gives me chills. My goal that night was to rescue as many people as possible, but also get my father’s truck and boat back to him safely. As daylight broke and the water continued to rise, I pulled the truck onto the sidewalk to get it up high enough not to flood. The ominous sound of The Deuce’s Cummins Diesel and rattling 15,000lbs of steel came greatly welcomed as now the water had risen to almost my chest in the roadway on Millerville. We were able to hook the boat and trailer to The Deuce and get it back home safely. I played the flood lottery with my father’s truck hoping I had gotten it high enough to not flood. Already worn out myself from doing rescues all the previous day and night, Hank mentioned that he and AJ were going back out to help some more after dropping the boat off. Somehow, that sparked enough energy for me to continue to go on. We met up with the St George Fire Dept. on Jones Creek and they added two firemen to our mobile unit. We were directed to the neighborhood behind Woodland Ridge to start rescuing people. Roads to get into some of the flooded areas, where distress calls were coming from, had water over 4.5ft deep. The Deuce meandered through with no issues and by the time we had finished up search and rescue for the day (with the help of about 9 boats also bringing people to the rendezvous point to get on The Deuce) we had moved some 50+ “Deuceloads” of people, luggage, and pets out of that neighborhood to higher ground. We also had to make a few rescues in the Camelot Subdivision as the water had risen from 0 to 3ft+ from the morning till the evening. Once we were finished, Hank dropped myself and AJ off at my parents house capping my 36 hours straight of search and rescue. The next day, I was informed by Hank's wife, that "he was out bright and early again this morning to go help law enforcement rescue people in the Prairieville area" where they reside. Since then, as recent as yesterday, I have been getting reports via Facebook that Hank (and his wife) were out and about still helping with people who couldn't get back to their homes by car and/or aiding in demo/cleanup. I am 9/14/2016 Cajun Navy Honorees 2/2 told it has always been a passion of Hank’s to be in Law Enforcement or some form of Military Aid. Suffice to say, several first responders and law enforcement agencies were very grateful to have Hank and The Deuce there and ready. From my understanding, The Deuce finally succumbed to a minor mechanical issue which will park it for a few days until Hank can get the parts and time to fix it, but after 4 weeks of search, rescue, and aid to others, Hank and The Deuce deserve to be recognized for all the help they provided to the citizens of this area.
Eddie Richardson, Brena Gasaway; Delories Gasaway
— Submitted by Bridgette Gasaway, Baton Rouge
I am forever grateful to my cousin Eddie and my brother Brena as they unselfishly came to the aid of myself and my son Joel, and navigated through the flood waters to rescue us. When we finally made it to safety, my mother greeted us with warm hugs, and kisses. I thank God for the love and care of my family, and for allowing me and my son to have such a wonderful testimony. I am thankful for all of the people who have given of their time, money, and resources to help all who were affected by this tragic event. May God continue to Bless You!
— Submitted by Hope Lewis, Denham Springs
After spending the night of August 23th in the second story of a neighbors home, Seth Leonard and his wife Sara came to our rescue. They rescued my family and our dog in their fishing boat and other families as well. We are eternally grateful for their help.
Two Wildlife and Fisheries agents from Monroe
— Submitted by Cathy Brouillette
My heroes were two Wildlife and Fisheries agents from Monroe. They were true gentlemen - so kind and compassionate. One of them held a toddler from the other family in our rescue boat when we were dropped off at the Tiger Car Wash on O'Neal Extension after a ride down Jones Creek from Shadows Lake Subdivision. We were picked up at around 10:00 Sunday morning. They let us use their Verizon phones to contact family who had been out of touch all night. As we were going to get more people we were boating down the middle of Shady Creek between the two rows of mailboxes. The boat captain asked about all of the blue bows on top of most mailboxes. He was touched and impressed with my answer that we were honoring the fallen and injured LEO's and supporting all of the ones still serving our community. These two men were my angels and I told them so.
— Submitted by Linda lynch
My grandson, Austin Johnson, used his fishing boat to help a friend rescue a family member right after the flood. He realized then what a great need there was for rescuing people trapped by flood waters. He was leaving to start college in Lafayette, but when the start of school was postponed he spend the rest of the days before school started rescuing people. A friend always went with him, but I don't know his name. My grandson could tell you that. If he knew I was sending this he would tell me not to, he never wanted recognition, he just wanted to rescue people. I am so proud of him.
Nick and friend Mike Williams
— Submitted by Charles Barbre
Sunday, Aug.14 we were awaken by our neighbor about 5:30. By the time we could get ready to leave the water was too high to drive out. About 7:15 the water started coming into the house .As the water rose my wife, a friend who evacuated to our house and myself waited for rescue and watched the water inch up. About eleven o’clock we see a boat coming down our street. We waved for them to stop. As we left the house there was about 15 inches in it. The two guys who rescued us were from Prairieville, Nick and his friend Mike Williams. As we turned the corner of our street we saw that the water was almost to the roofs of the houses a block from mine. The current was very strong leaving the neighborhood. As we were leaving we came upon a boat that was stalled. Nick offered a tow. However, the current was so strong it pushed the towed boat into ours and he had to let it go. They brought us to high land where we called our daughter and she came and got us. Nick and Mike are our heroes. Thanks to them and all of the Cajun Navy for all that they did. May God bless them all.
Aaron Young, Damion Zumo
— Submitted by Allison Brister
My name is Allison Brister and although this flood has been a devastating event for my family, I'm proud that i was able to meet and truly experience what the Cajun navy really is. On Saturday my mom, aunt, uncle, daughter, and myself went to Target to buy supplies to help friends who were being flooded out of homes and since we had no flooding yet and never had before thought we could open our homes to those in need.2 hours later we couldn't get to my home or my aunts by car. The water was rushing in from every direction and fast. I ran about 2 blocks up to get in house to grab pets. The water was above my knees for first trip by the third it was waist deep and we had to move car to be able to drive down street to my uncles home. We had water in his home in one hour. Our first ride with Cajun navy occurred here. The owner of the boat lost his house twelve hours earlier and couldn't just sit he had to do something so for ten hours he made trips around neighborhood rescuing people. I thanked and hugged him. Before he got us I posted on social media that we needed help and I had a five year old girl, I got a call from a friend in high school that he saw my post and was trying to get his buddy's boat and would come get us. Well another boat came first but after being dropped off on street we walked a half mile to my grandmothers home. Within 15 minutes we were told to get out. By this time though driving out was no option we were stuck but my friends Aaron Young and Damion Zumo were on the way still. I was so traumatized and scared to do this all over again and I was very upset but Aaron kept me calm saying don't worry we got you. We will be there to help and minutes later they were. This evacuation was more difficult as my 85 year old grandmother was still recovering from being very ill May and June. There was no way that she could get to the boat without hesitation Aaron picks her up and carries her to the boat as Damian gave my daughter a piggy back ride to the boat. He spoke calmly to her and kept her feeling safe. See my daughter in her five years of life has already had to loose her daddy when she was 2 as he died from heart attack. He also went to Belaire High and graduated with us all. The first boatload included my grandmother , my daughter, 4 cats, and Sophie. They docked boat by millerville and again both guys carried Sophie and my grandmother across street to the truck and then went back for my aunt , uncle, and mom. They dropped us off at a friends home but continued to check in on us. They didn't want the attention but both donated to my family and declined any type of thank you gift saying it was in their heart to help and there was never a question of not saving us. I had two different Cajun navy experiences in a day but the theme that was the same is unity. All I kept hearing was we got you don't worry we are here and happy to help. This was no easy thing to do, the water was disgusting and dangerous but they were as calm and compassionate as possible. Please honor these heroes. They won't ever say they acted out of bravery and are heroes but they saved our lives. How can you thank someone for helping you during the scariest time in my life?? Hopefully by having their actions acknowledged in the advocate.
Steven Gajan, Matt Coffel
— Submitted by Dave Myers, Central
A young man that I have met a few times, and heard a lot of good things about, did a good thing that I and my family will never forget. He never asked for this recognition, just being a good man, but I want to tell this Cajun Navy Hero story. Steven Gajan, with help from Matt Coffelt, brought his truck and boat into a dangerous area of rising water. He did this because his friend, my son Ryan, was trapped in his house with girlfriend and her 4 year old daughter. Safe for now, the continuous rain and rising water forced a decision to leave the house. While we waited at Indian Mound grocery, in the rain, with Sandy Creek rising and rising, Steven rode over and got his friends, boated them back to waiting family. I will always hold a place in my heart for him. Steven and Matt rescued many over the days after the flood, and are true heroes in my book.
— Submitted by Pat and Charlie Ho, Baton Rouge
As water was rising rapidly up our front walk, we called the fire department for rescue. We were told we would be put on the list. A friend had offered to take us in. A stranger on a 4 wheeler then appeared in our driveway and asked if we needed to be evacuated. Derick Cutrer, former Marine, former National Guard, took us one by one on his 4 wheeler through the water out the back of our subdivision. When our friend couldn't get to the designated meeting place because of the flooding, Derick and Heather Cutrer graciously offered to take us to their unflooded home where they had already welcomed 2 other families.. We all spent the night, were fed and when the water receded a little Derick returned us to our home via his 4 wheeler. Our gratitude for the kindness of strangers knows no bounds.
Chris Camber, Bryan Mannino, Kim Serigné, Jr., Chris Tiblier, Chris Legrand, Kelly Walgomette and Ben Tiblier
— Submitted by Ray Huntz
Chris Camber lives in NOLA area and works at Professional Sportsman on Julia St. He dropped everything, got his boat and saved a lot of people.
Bryan Mannino of Independence works at Whitetail Butcher Shop. He too dropped everything to take his boat and save people.
Kim Serigné, Jr., of Delacroix, is a St Bernard firefighter known for helping anyone in need. He got his airboat and saved people.
Chris Tiblier, Chris Legrand, Kelly Walgomette and Ben Tiblier, all of Slidell, dropped everything and put their businesses on hold to go to Denham Springs to feed the flood victims. They're still doing so.
All of these people are selfless individuals who truly care about our state and never ever hesitate to help whoever, wherever, whenever and however they could, and can. They are all heroes.
— Submitted by TAMARA BEARD, Baton Rouge
We had never flooded in Sherwood Forest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana until about 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2016 . . .
flash flood came without warning and extremely fast . . . had about 15 minutes to get my elderly mother and
three Siberian Huskies out of the house . . . my son had gone to help a family that was flooding earlier that night and when he came back to our house, they could not drive onto our street as it had already started flooding and water was moving swiftly. He waded through water to get to the house about 3:00 AM to tell us to get dressed and get out. We only had time to put clothes on, warn the neighbor across the street, put our prescription drugs in a plastic bag, and leash up the Huskies. We lost our house, its contents, and our vehicles . . . and insurance will
not cover contents due to loss being a flood! Unbelievable!!
Our house is next to the Flannery BREC Park where there is a shelter . . . we made our way by flashlight in the middle of the night to this shelter to find buses coming in as the flash flood was unexpectedly flooding this shelter. They were hurriedly evacuating the Flannery Rd shelter. Water was rushing in due to overflow from the Amite and sewer backup on one side and flooding in from Jones Creek and a small Bayou and sewer backup on the other side, quickly!
When I reached the Flannery Rd Shelter, I was told my dogs were not allowed in the shelter. I saw a Golden Retriever locked in a kennel outside in the rain at the shelter and the senior female owner informed
me the day and night she had been there, they had made her dog stay outside in the rain/weather . . . they would not allow it inside.
Same went for me and my dogs . . . my dogs were not allowed inside the shelter building and then I was informed my dogs would not be allowed to be rescued with me on the bus. This is a Red Cross shelter and I was surprised to be told my dogs would have to be left behind to essentially drown. My son and my mother boarded the last bus out of the shelter and I was left alone with my 3 Siberian Huskies, who by the way were leashed, quiet and very well-behaved, not causing any commotion or trouble.
Like an angel that dropped out of the sky . . a young man appeared with a small twoseater jeep, STEVEN LEE. I told him I had been stranded at the shelter as the Red Cross would not let me take my dogs on the rescue bus. I was terrified and shaking, but there was no way I was going to leave my dogs behind to drown. He told me he thought his jeep could make it through the water if we left immediately. At this point in time, the buses were taking on water on the Flannery Rd Bridge trying to make it out of the flash flood. My mother said so much water came into the bus when they made their escape that her feet got wet. That is high water on Flannery Rd and Old Hammond Hwy.
STEVEN LEE risked his vehicle and his life by getting me and by dogs out of harms way. We barely made it over the Flannery Rd Bridge and through the Old Hammond Hwy intersection. He brought me to a friend's apartment where I was allowed to bring my precious dogs. Steven immediately went back to rescue others. His jeep gave out after going through the water and he continued rescuing people by kayak down Goodwood Blvd. By that time the water was about 4-5 feet deep in places, including the BREC Park, Sherwood Forest and Goodwood Blvd . . . my neighbors got their dogs out by boat down Goodwood Blvd at about 4:00 AM.
This area has NEVER flooded, not in Katrina, not in Gustav, NEVER . . . it was a flash flood that came up fast without warning in the middle of the night while we were asleep . . no time to make preparation for evacuation or escape. It is a miracle that no one drowned!
I'm sure you have seen the video posted on Facebook of someone riding in a boat through Sherwood Forest and The Woodlands which is close to my neighborhood.
We are displaced like so many thousands of others and lost everything. However, my elderly mother and another elderly couple we invited to stay at our house that night because their house in Livingston Parish had flooded the day before . . . all got out safely and my dogs, who I love like my children, were rescued along with myself by former military man, STEVEN LEE . . GOD BLESS HIM!
God Bless him for saving me and my furry babies and for saving the ones that left after us!
STEVEN LEE IS OUR HERO! I have no words to truly express my gratitude to this young man to selflessly gave of himself and his vehicle to save others . . . yes . . . his jeep is not running due to rescuing people through the high
flood water, so now he is without a vehicle!
Charlie Moffat & Adam Nixon
— Submitted by William R Fossey
My stepson Charlie Moffatt pulled up at the police barricade on I 12 Sunday morning during the Great flood. A police officer blocked the highway from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs, but Charlie was part of the Cajun Navy and needed to get through. "I saved 67 people in Central on Saturday," Charlie told the officer. "Now I'm headed to Denham Springs to evacuate my grandmother. Are you going to stop me?"
The officer thought about it a few seconds, and waived Charlie on. Charlie and his friend Adam Mixon were in a Ford 350 pulling a shallow-draft duck hunting boat--the perfect vessel for the Cajun Navy. They drove east on I 12 and launched their boat on the exit ramp near the Bass Pro Shop on Range Avenue. From there, they worked their way through a Denham Springs subdivision near Vincent Road and popped out in my Nephew Brandon's back yard on James Road. Brandon and his family had already evacuated to high ground in a bateau, but I was there with my wife Kim and Kim's brother Jim Alford.
Charlie and Adam loaded us up in the duck boat, but Charlie's grandparents (Ivy and Kitty Alford) were stranded with Charlie's Aunt Susan Broussard in the Carter Hills subdivision near Juban Road. We made our way by boat to Vincent Road, which was dry. With the help of some friendly bystanders, we dragged the boat across Vincent Road and headed to Carter Hills. Adam stood in the front of the boat, guiding us with the GPS on his cell phone. The route he plotted took us through the Grey Stone Subdivision and the Grey Stone Golf Course.
It was weird winding our way over the golf course in 5 feet of water. The flags marking the holes were sticking out of the water only about 10 inches. Eventually we got to Carter Hills, where we found Charlie's grandparents (Kim's parents), and we set a course back to Range Avenue--seven of us in the boat and beginning to get dark. Eventually we made it back to the boat trailer on I 12, loaded up, and drove back to Baton Rouge driving the wrong way west on Route 12.
Charlie and Adam deposited us all safe and sound at his Uncle Donald Alford's house, where we celebrated our rescue with jambalaya and a few Abita Ambers.
Now you may ask why my wife Kim and I got evacuated out of Denham Springs that Sunday, since we live in Baton Rouge. That's another story. Kim drove to Denham Springs on Saturday, August 13, to warn her parents to come to Baton Rouge because Denham was going to flood. Her brothers Donald and Jim Alford went with her, and together the family got all of Kitty and Ivy's furniture lifted up about 12 inches in preparation for the flood.
But that task took them awhile, and by the time they finished, high water was flooding through the I 12 underpass at Range Avenue. Donald made it out in his pickup truck, but Kitty, Ivy, Jim and Kim got stranded at Brandon Broussard's house on James Road.
I was in Baton Rouge, and about 10 o'clock Saturday evening, Kim texted me that two inches of water had come into Brandon's house, and she didn't know how high the water would get. Thinking Kim's sister Susan's house in the Carter Hills subdivision might be safer, Ivy and Kitty were taken there on Saturday evening.
I made up my mind to check on Kim and her parents on Sunday morning. I drove to O'Neil Lane and walked down O'Neal a ways until I struck I 12. I then walked down I 12 to Denham Springs and got to Brandon's house about 11 o'clock in the morning. Charlie and Adam arrived shortly thereafter in the duck hunting boat. From there we boated through the Grey Stone subdivision, picked up Kitty and Ivy and returned to the boat trailer at the Range Avenue exit around dark on Sunday night.
It was an adventure. And I might add that as we motored home the wrong way on I 12 on Sunday evening, we drove past a long line of pickup trucks and boat trailers at the police barricade on I 12--the Cajun Navy waiting for daylight to rescue more people from the Great Flood of 2016--which we have dubbed "The Redneck Katrina."
It was perhaps the Cajun Navy's finest hour.
Beau and Will Clark
— Submitted by W. Roger Clark
It is hard not to brag on your children and grandchildren without sounding like a braggert but here you go:
My son and grandson went out with 2 friends to Woodland Ridge to see if they could help and may have set the record for rescuing the oldest person as they boated out a 102-year-old lady. Her comment was priceless “I liked to fish when I was a young girl but I never thought I would be in a boat again so I am going to enjoy the ride”. They delivered her safe and sound and went back again for a gentleman in a wheel chair-also safe and sound. Now this was a Sunday, which is our family day but these guys decided to go help. I would have gone but at my age it is time to pass the torch and we did not want to have a “Shawn Penn” moment where we had more rescuers in the boat than victims so I stayed home to protect the women and children.
Now what I am most proud of is that my son is Beau Clark, who has been out there every day but still took time out to help. I am also proud of Will, my 15-year-old grandson, who wanted to go and who was animated and excited to share the story with us at dinner that night—he learned a valuable lesson that day.
Beau never seeks the spotlight and he does not know I am sending this but he represents what is good about Baton Rouge—people helping people and teaching their children the importance of doing for others with no expectations other than feeling happy that you did something good.
So not sure this qualifies as being heroic but these 2 are my heroes.
— Submitted by John Gavin
My nominee for the hero award in the Cajun navy is David Viguerie of Baton Rouge Insurance Agency in Baton Rouge. This is what David did on the Saturday after the rains of 8/11 - 12. The subdivision of Centurion Place off O'Neil blvd, was rapidly flooding. Starting very early in the morning David jumped in his big boat and maneuvered to Centurion Place and for the next 12 - 15 hours rescued no less than 50 to 100 residents. He ended his mission at 10:00 p.m. No one called David to help he just caught wind of the Centurion plight and jumped into his boat. He saved many lives that day. Thank you.
— Submitted by Michelle Humphrey
Though he became famous for his role in the Cajun Navy while the flood waters were high, once the water receded he quickly traded in his boat for a pair of work boots, took temporary leave from the Cajun Navy and joined the Cajun Debris Army. His tractor replaced his boat as his primary weapon of choice and he immediately began helping countless flood victims with debris clean-up.
Most people remember him for what he did when the flood waters were high…rolling down flood covered streets from Central to St. Amant in his boat, taking people to safety. I will always remember him for what he did when the water receded…rolling down Stringer Bridge Road on his tractor, helping people consolidate their debris and better position it for pick-up.
Last but not least, all of the attention and notoriety has NOT changed Dustin Clouatre one bit. He is still Dustin, a good guy proud of his community. When I told my husband that Dustin was going to be interviewed nationally on Fox and Friends, he just smiled and said, “I bet you he sports a St. Amant baseball cap.” He did. As the saying goes: “You can take a man out of St. Amant, but you will never take St. Amant out of the man.”
I would like to nominate Dustin Clouatre as my Cajun Navy hero because he was more than just a member of the Cajun Navy, he embodies the spirit of the Cajun Navy…neighbors helping neighbors...in any way, shape or form.
— Submitted by Cassandra Boykins
My coworker and friend was saving individuals.
Dwayne Fleming an unsuspecting hero, had no idea when he left his second job on Thursday night he would be saving his neighbors over the weekend in his 17 foot fishing boat. Dwayne who just turned 51 last month and doesn’t look a day over forty, is an avid outdoors man and an all-around country boy at heart. He has a southern drawl in his voice and a glimmer of happiness in his eye. He’s a humble, quiet, hero who wanted to know how I knew he was out there in his boat saving people.
When I asked him how many people he saved, he looked upward and tried to recall faces of the neighbors he had helped that day. He counted three times out loud to himself, picturing each of their faces. He finally came to a total “10 people, 1 dog, and 1 cat.” I asked him if he made multiple trips and he said, “yeah a few trips.”
Dwayne is a tall man, probably right around 6 feet tall. The water that day was above his chest, nearly to his shoulders, a depth of close to 5 feet or maybe more he said. He was in the northern portion of Sherwood Forest Boulevard. An area hit unexpectedly with flooding. Like many places, an area that had not seen water in the most recent flooding that set records in the 1980s.
Three hours that day, he made trips in his boat. Saving lives of many people he did not know. Today, when you ask him about it he is almost shy in his response. When you say, you are a member of the Cajun Navy! He looks confused and says “what’s that?” As he walked away to go to toward home at the end of the work day, I yelled “see ya later captain!” He didn’t want the recognition, he is a humble man, but he is nonetheless a hero. He laughed and smiled and waved over his shoulder.
Here is to Captain Dwayne ~The Great
Cruz Garcia, Wesley Carlino
— Submitted by Donald J Hume
On the Sunday evening when waters were rising in Ascension Parish, in Manchac Harbor specifically, there was a knock on our door. My wife and I are in our 70's, and not as agile as we once were and had decided to ride it out and move upstairs if we had to.
Around 9:00 PM Cruz Garcia, the son of a neighbor and his friend, Wesley Carlino, knocked on our door to tell us the water was rising rapidly and that we needed to evacuate.
They brought a boat up the front door and helped us old folks into their boat. They pulled the boat towards the front of the subdivision where we happened to meet up with a police truck that could get through the water. After ensuring we were ok and had a place o they left to do more good deeds. We learned later that these heroes had been evacuating people all day.
Cruz Garcia and Wesley Carlino demonstrated what is good about people in their 20's and many people in our region who selflessly help others. Their efforts and the great work of the Ascension Parish Sheriffs Office should be commended for their good work.
— Submitted by Toni Gilboy
I would like to nominate my grandson, Dusty Courtney, as he is a hero in my eyes for sure. He wrote an account of his experiences on August 13th, when the flood hit Central, for our relatives who lived out of state, and I found it riveting and very touching. He didn't have a boat, but he helped so many people get into boats to escape the rising water, including his wife and children, and he stayed behind to help. I have attached his account. I hope you can use it. I will attach a picture of them taken that day.
I would also like to nominate the 3 men from Church of the Highlands on Highland Road, that came to rescue 5 widows from our homes on Torrey Pine Dr., off of Old Hammond Hwy. They told me their names, but in the stress of that day, I am sorry to say, I don't remember their names. We had been taken in by Danny & Cheryl Torres, who had a generator, but the water kept rising so Danny decided we needed to evacuate altogether. The 3 gentlemen came to a fence separating Torrey Pine from the open area behind it, broke open the gate, and came to the Torres' house. They helped us into their small boat, and drove out through the gate, leaving a rescue worker to stand there to guide other boats into the area. There used to be a pond with a fountain in it back there; now it was a huge lake! They went toward Old Hammond, coming from behind the Coaches Assoc. building, then through a bunch of low-hanging trees, and then we were coming up to the Presbyterian church, which is north on Old Hammond. I couldn't figure out how we had crossed Old Hammond and were now coming back from the other side! Anyway, they took good care of us, and as we came down that wide expanse of the Old Hammond River, we were dazed to see the devastation on either side! Bless those gentlemen, they landed us safe onto higher ground, then turned around and went back to look for the other people who were waiting to get out. I can't thank them enough!
— Submitted by Michael Buchart
Sharron Buchart was ensuring the care of her elderly parents, both whom are hospice patients dependent on others for their every day needs, while completely surrounded by water for a couple days northwest of the Millerville / I-12 exit. When their situation stabilized enough for Sharron to return home in Sherwood Forest there still was too much water to make it a safe reality. My wife absolutely said 'I will not paddle (1.5 miles distant) to get her'. Oh well. But, unbeknownst to Sharron, a fireman friend of ours from Jefferson Parish, had just completed several rescue missions around Denham Springs with his fellow fireman, called me over intermittent communication asking if he knew of anyone needing help. "Yes sir" I said and "bless you my friend, bring my wife home". He did, along with others (names unknown), that required two vehicles, two boats - the last being a canoe and a final wade down the street. So Sharron, the best friend I have, made it home safely carrying her little red bag. Thank you Donnie. Thank you unknown others who returned my wife to me. But just as important, I thank each and every individual who made it possible to assist someone somewhere safely. This is America at its best
James Edwards, David Hanson and Alan Brockman
— Submitted by Doreen Purpera
A nomination for a true bunch of heroes from a 94 year old Little Old Lady from Pasadena.
I want to thank my heroes of the “Cajun Navy”.
Saturday 8-13, my 21yr old grandson, Brett, and I watched the water getting slowly up the driveway. I still believed the water would not reach the house, however, my grandson went out to talk to the neighbours. It was so good to see all the men shaking hands and hugging each other. Good neighbours united. Brett got on the phone and put our names down for rescue. I still did not think it was necessary! By midnight, there were 3 boats in my yard ready to rescue the neighbours. The first boat would not take my faithful old golden retriever, Bebe. I said I could not leave her. My grandson said, “ Granny, you must go and I will stay with Bebe. I was not leaving without both of them.
My prayers were answered immediately at 2:00 am by a handsome young man in uniform , James Edwards, who offered his arm to me and said he would take all 3 of us. I also want to thank the handsome navigators of the “Swamp Donkey” Airboats of Monroe, LA, David Hanson and Alan Brockman with their charm and kindness and great navigating through the high water and dark streets.
By the time we got to dry land, I learned that my son, daughter and son-in-law had been waiting for hours on Monterrey talking to other rescuers and told them that I was a WWII Veteran of the Women’s Royal Navy (W.R.N.S) in England. Another very sweet handsome member of the Cajun rescue team was interested in my opinion of Winston Churchill, Chamberlain and WWII. I told him I was married in England on V.E. Day, May 8th, 1945 to an American soldier in the Army Air Corp, Jimmie Purpera. We were married for 65 yrs and widowed in 2010.
I am 94 yrs old and wondering if God has any more adventures planned for me. I am willing to stay on this earth for a few more years- you meet such wonderful people! I hope at least I get to go back to live in my house in the near future.
My 3 children, 14 grandchildren, my dog and I thank you. God Bless!
I salute the “Cajun Navy”. Love ya’ll. By the way, do you have to be handsome to join the “Cajun Navy”?
Louisiana State Trooper JR Hall
— Submitted by Penelope McCarthy
Meet Louisiana State Trooper JR Hall of Troop A, Baton Rouge, Louisiana!! Here he is pictured with 3-year-old Trey Jacobs of League City, Texas, at the Holden Exit overpass on I-12 before our evacuation by the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office on the afternoon of August 14. Trooper Hall was stranded there with us for more than 26 hours on August 13-14. We were on our way to Destin, Florida, when impassable water crossed the interstate ahead of us and behind us. We were also traveling with Trey's one-year-old brother, Wesley Michael, his parents, Jim and Liz Jacobs, and my sister, Cindy O'Meara of New Roads (Trey's grandmother). Conditions were miserable: very little water or food, dangerous heat, no shade, and hungry mosquitoes, not to mention the lack of toilet facilities. Throughout the ordeal, Trooper Hall kept us calm and informed. He familiarized himself with the 200 plus people stranded with him on the overpass. He made sure that we were safe. He saw to it that the children and the elderly received the first water that was brought in many hours later. He went without sleep. He politely answered all questions, and he did it with the beautiful smile that you see on his face in this picture. He told me that Saturday morning he had to carry his mother-in-law from her flooded home through knee deep water while wearing this same uniform. This officer was a Godsend to all of us. This picture was taken as we were being evacuated on Sunday afternoon. Notice that Trooper Hall is still smiling and carrying baby food up the embankment after 26 miserable hours. He stopped to pose for a photo and to give Trey a high-five. Can you understand why Trey calls Officer Hall "my awesome new best friend?" Trey has told us that he wants to be a policeman when he grows up. Please honor this fine young law enforcement officer as an outstanding member of the Cajun Navy. He is most deserving of this honor.
— Submitted by Noelle Kinberger
My husband's name is Devin and he is a diesel mechanic at Peterbilt of Louisiana. He woke up early on the morning of Saturday, August 13th to find out just how bad the flooding was. My husband was born to help people in need. He has the biggest heart of anyone I know. He told me he just had to go. He immediately got into his boat and went to the corner of Magnolia Bridge and Greenwell Springs. He rescued people from their trailers and houses for 6 hours straight. He ran over cars and trucks. At one point, because of the current, he was scared that he wasn't going to come home to me and our 3 children. On Sunday, August 14th, he woke up early again and contacted the Central Fire Department. He and a friend joined a firefighter to search multiple neighborhoods the entire day! Finally, on Monday, August 15th, he got his boat out again to check on family members on Blackwater Rd. and check on his work. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he helped his best friend gut his house that was flooded. On Thursday and Friday, he was out on Alligator Bayou Rd. helping rescue escaped alligators on his cousin's property. My husband risked his life all to help people he didn't know and to wrangle alligators. He loves Louisiana, it's people and our livelihood. He would give anyone the shirt off his back. He deserves to be honored! Thank you!
Gordon Madere, Cory Adams, and his friends and Swamp Assassin pros Spencer Fontenot, Blake Saia, Billy Smith, Jr., Ed Guidry and Michael Dupuy
— Submitted by Carol Roberts, Baton Rouge
My phone rang at 7:30 AM Saturday morning, August 13, 2016 and my daughter-in-law said, “I need you to get us out of here. The water is on the patio and it is coming in the house.” I told her I could come in my truck but she said it was already too high for the truck to make it. My son confirmed the worst, “the water outside looks like a river with rapids.” The water was already too high for the kids to walk through. He was waiting on a high water rescue but I knew from listening to the news, there was no rescue truck in that subdivision. I thought, “oh my God, my son and his family, my three grandchildren needed evacuating.” I told them if it got too high to get in the attic and I would see what we could do. My first call went to my niece, Christi Adams, who called on her son, Cory Adams, owner of Swamp Assassins, a hunting and fishing guide service. He has a flat bottom mud boat and she said, “ him and his friends would load up and go in for the rescue.” I called my son, Bo Roberts, and told him Wade (Evans) and the children are in trouble, *they need rescuing.” He jumped in his vehicle and his wife asked him, ”what are you going to do?” He said, “I’m going to do whatever I can.” I called my son’s wife, Mandi Roberts and asked her to call her dad, Gordon Madere, who agreed to take his fishing boat in. He was able to travel from Broadmoor/Sherwood Forest area on Central Thruway and get past the high water at Greenwell Springs Road and go up Hooper Road. My daughter Amy Roberts lives across the street from Tonya and Wade, then, she called and said water was going in her house, and I told her to take the first boat offered, we had boats coming. My son, Bo, walked in chest deep water and road with a deputy to get into the subdivision. Then the rescue boats put in on Hooper Road to go into Carmel Acres subdivision, the boat owners and operators were Mr. Gordon Madere, Cory Adams, and his friends and Swamp Assassin pros Spencer Fontenot, Blake Saia, Billy Smith, Jr., Ed Guidry and Michael Dupuy. The rescue began. In addition, they had the help of Christi, Mandi and Meagan Tydings, who waited at BRCC campus on Hooper with a fire truck and as soon as the boats came out with people and pets, the girls would help unload the boats and put the evacuees in their personal vehicles and Cory’s elevated truck and get them to higher land and drop them off at an emergency shelter at Zoar Church. Cory Matherne who lives in the subdivision was already rescuing people on his jet ski. The boats continued rescuing everyone out of Carmel Acres and then, they heard there were additional people to rescue in Tanglewood Subdivision, across Hooper Road where water rose suddenly to the roofs of their homes. ‘They heard there were people on their roofs and holding onto trees. The rescue team of Swamp Assassins, Cory Adams and his friends, continued to rescue people from Tanglewood until after dark and they were sure everyone was out. Their fleet of six boats were approved by the sheriff’s office to rescue stranded citizens from Livingston Parish the following day.
After my family was rescued, they told me of the following event when I could have lost my entire family, three children and three grandchildren. Amy Roberts was walking through the water to get to the boats and the swift current took her under and her dog got swept away from her. My other son, Bo grabed her and got her to a stop sign to hold onto. He went after the dog and yelled for Wade to grab a rope, while he was forced by the pressure of the water with his back forced to a stop sign. The stop sign literally saved his life. The three came out tied together and the mother and children were on a Mr. Gordon’s rescue boat which was struggling against the swift river-like currents. My entire family made it out safely, thanks to our hometown heroes who risked their own lives to save them. There are never words adequate to thank them for their selfless and courageous actions. Thank you God and thank you Mr. Gordon and Cory and all his friends who risked it all. Amazing but these are the type people who are humble and don’t feel that they need recognition, because they were just doing what they could do.
Kyle Lockhart, Cody Odom
— Submitted by Laine Beauregard
I want to bring to attention 2 of the recusers; Kyle Lockhart and Cody Odom. They called to recuse me but i was safe from the water, even so barely but safe. They went out for days. They are two fine young men. Kyle is a relative that I am most proud of. I am his Aunt Lane. There are some pictures on Kyles Lockharts facebook. They did not serve for reconition. They served because they saw the need. And were grateful to be able to do so.
— Submitted by Allan Durand
Late in the day that the levees broke, then Senator Gautreaux from Abbeville got a text from a Senate colleague from New Orleans which said “My people are dying, we need help”. Gautreaux hurried to a Lafayette radio station and did a quick on air interview, asking anyone with a boat who wanted to help to be at the Acadiana Mall parking lot at 4:00 the next morning.
Brian Smelzer and his brother, plus about 300-400 others, showed up, formed a caravan, and went to New Orleans. When they got there, they were stopped by law enforcement officers who told them to turn around and go home, it was too dangerous to let them into the city.
Most obeyed the officers and came back....but Brian and his brother crossed the river, and waited for an official vehicle to come by on the way to New Orleans on old highway 90. When one passed from Angola, they got on its bumper and followed it in. At every barricade, Brian told the officers he was with the officer in the vehicle directly ahead of him, and he was passed thru.
Brian and his brother ran his boat all around the flooded areas of New Orleans for the next 10 days, paying for hundreds of gallons of gas and all expenses. The had to dodge snakes, live electric lines, and in many neighborhoods, gunfire.
The best estimate is that they rescued about 2,500 people, most of whom were elderly or disabled, and most of whom would have died without the rescue...and some of whom died in Brian’s boat on the way to safety.
I think this was an extraordinary act of courage and generosity. How many other people do you know who as a volunteer – not part of their job – can say that they, acting alone, snuck past police barricades and saved the lives of over 2,000 people?
If he’s not a hero, we need to quit using the word.
— Submitted by Roxanne Atkinson
Shane Grimmett rescued us from our home in Central. He told us that once he knew his family was safe, he wanted to help everyone he could get to safety. He rescued my husband, Earl, our grandson, Kaden, our three dogs and me. Our councilman, Shane Evans stayed in contact with me until he knew we were safe. It took Shane over two hours to get to us and he had to get us out via the Comite River to the Central Thruway in waters that were deep, Swift and dangerous. He risked his life to save us. We are forever grateful to him and so many. May Father God bless our Cajun Navy!
— Submitted by Cheryl Hall
We live in Bellingrath Lakes Subdivision just off Greenwell Springs Road in Central. On Saturday morning, August 13th, as the flood waters of the Amite River were beginning to come into our home I called the Central Fire Department's main phone number to request a rescue. In less than an hour a boat appeared at our front door driven by Claude Bergeron to rescue us. As he rescued us and some of our neighbors (using his personal boat) we found out that he just lived a short distance down Greenwell Springs Road from our neighborhood and that his home was flooding also. He had already rescued numerous people that morning and also a deer that was caught in the fast current that flowed down Greenwell Springs Road. The following week, after we were able to get back into our neighborhood when the flood waters receded, I was working to haul items out of my house when this truck pulled up in my driveway and the driver got out. I stood there for a moment wondering who it was when he asked "Do you remember me?" It dawned on me that this was the man who had rescued my husband and me just a few days earlier. We immediately hugged and he said he was checking on all the folks he had rescued to see if they were ok. Now that's what I call "caring." We thank God for Claude Bergeron and the Cajun Navy!!
— Submitted by Mildred Worrell, Clinton
It was steadily raining in Clinton as daylight came on the morning of Friday, August 12, but it had been steadily raining for days, heavy rain. Down in Reileyville, a neighborhood near Pretty Creek that had flooded in the past, an overflow of historic proportions was occurring. The older part of the neighborhood, with houses, trailers, and abandoned examples of both, received up to ten feet of water so quickly that residents were trapped in their homes.
The rescuers who delivered the threatened came from many sources: residents themselves who had risen early, seen the rapid rise, and moved their own vehicles to higher ground, then went back to assist neighbors to safety; Town of Clinton police and East Feliciana Sheriff’s deputies, and DCI officers, along with inmates from the parish jail; and men and women of good will from across the area, those who had kin or friends in the “Ville,” or who were first responders, or just wanted to help. Some brought their small boats, and it was in this way that the entire small community was evacuated, and not one soul was lost.
It was an example of the finest kind of civic unity. It was heroic, and the stories of rescues of elderly, sick, disabled and frightened people are too numerous to detail. Newspaper accounts in The Advocate and The Feliciana Explorer document events for the historical record. However, my submission seeks to celebrate the totality of the community’s response to the crisis, the selflessness and unity demonstrated that I hope will continue to be present as these areas of our town undergo the aftermath of the disaster. Clinton can be better if such “Responders” will continue to be involved, courageous, and united. If there is a good side to this terrible event, it might be found in the old cliché of the Chinese characters to write “crisis.” One is “danger,” the other stands for “opportunity.”
The opportunity is ours for the taking, if we will.
— Submitted by Sharon Soileau
Much like the United States Navy, not all members of the Cajun Navy came by boat. Some also came in trucks, pulling trailers full of supplies. His first trip to our flood ravaged area was Sunday, August 14 - as soon as he could find a route from Mississippi. Yes, for a few days, Livingston Parish was an island unto itself. But a true Cajun never gives up.
With his Dad, Roy, stranded on the EBR Parish side of the Amite River, his 93 year old Grandmother
and “much” younger Mom, Sharon, alone in Watson, Sonny Soileau was not to be deterred. He loaded up his horse trailer with hastily obtained cleaning supplies, water, milk and bread. Sonny was a welcomed sight to Mom, Grandma, and finally home, equally determined Dad
He immediately dropped off his supplies and went to help a long-time family friend in Central whose home in Central flooded. Sonny worked for two days then drove back to Wiggins, Mississippi, where he works for the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency as Hospital Development Coordinator. This schedule was repeated the following three weekends as well...each time bringing supplies donated by his church First United Methodist Church of Wiggins and generous caring friends. Subsequent trips also brought volunteers willing to spend their weekends gutting the houses of strangers.
You see, as a Katrina survivor in Biloxi, Sonny and many of his friends were paying it forward.
Therefore, I would like to nominate Anthony Roy ( Sonny) Soileau III to be recognized as a hero of the Cajun Navy of the Flood of 2016,
— Submitted by Charles L. and Darlene F. Shilling
Shortly before 5:00 AM on Saturday, August 13, 2016, my wife and I got a telephone call from our daughter who was living in Baker, LA. She said that her house was flooding and ask for us to meet her at a location yet to be determined.
We left our house near Watson, LA, about 5:15 AM. We traveled our regular route to her house: LA 1024 to left on LA 16, right on to Amite Church Road, then left (southward) on to LA 1019. About 0.2 miles after getting onto LA 1019, we encountered swift water over the road. It was dark and raining, and there were no barricades to indicate danger. Although travelling slowly, the front end of our pick-up was swept to the left. After moving several feet laterally, the truck came to a stop against what we later learned was an embankment. We were stunned! After a few minutes while trying to gather our wits, we felt water entering the cab around our feet. After several more minutes, it was evident we needed to get to a higher position. We rolled down the windows and sat in the window openings of the truck for some time. With our cell phones and watches water-logged, we could not communicate electronically or tell time. When the water level got to the bottom of the window opening, my wife made her way into the bed of the truck. She held on to the truck window frame and onto the front edge of the cab while kneeling on the tool box.
After the water had risen about half-way up the window opening, I finally was able to get out of the window and get into the bed of the truck with my wife. A short time later, the water-level was over the hood of the truck and continuing to rise. My wife and I prayed and expressed our love for each other in the midst of our dilemma. Several vehicles stopped at the point where we entered the water. We called loudly and signaled with a light but to no avail.
With daylight just beginning to break, a team arrived, unloaded a small bateau but they could not get the motor to run. They loaded their boat and left. We were in hopes that they would tell someone else who would rescue us.
Daylight finally arrived. About mid-morning with the water level now flowing over the top of the cab of the truck, we heard a motor boat coming up from the south. We waved and attracted the attention of Mr. Johny Williams. Road access to Mr. Williams’ home in East Baton Rouge Parish had flooded and he was looking for water access to his place. Mr. Williams rescued my wife and me and took us to the home of Mr. Sid Garrison. After drying off somewhat and regaining some body warmth, we realized we had been in the rain and water 5 1/2 hours clinging to the cab of our truck. Mr. Williams has since stated that he rescued several other people and took one man across the Amite River to check on his family. Mr. Williams is truly a life-saving hero and certainly deserves to be a proud member of the Heroes of the Cajun Navy.
— Submitted by Janet L. Cavalier
This is not my story. I just happened to be in Baton Rouge to see my dying father. My sister Karen, in from Houston and my lifelong hero, joined me. I was supposed to fly back to the Carolinas the day before the flood. Despite the fear, despair and loss we experienced, I am thankful beyond measure that Karen and I didn’t leave. I am certain, if we had, at least one of my parents would have perished in the flood.
My hero list is long and incomplete. It is filled with the names and anecdotes about people I love. The list also includes a multitude of first-name only and nameless strangers that showed my family a level of kindness and goodness that takes my breath and brings tears to recall.
The rain worried me. We lived in my parents’ Sherwood Forest home in 1983 while they worked overseas. My husband Andy (long-distance from South Carolina) advised me not to worry as the ’83 flood had only reached the front sidewalk. I countered that the Governor and state police cautioned comparing this event to that one.
Saturday, Karen and I had to vacate our first floor motel room on O’Neil Road; we would be reassigned after noon. High water prevented us from returning to the motel so we stationed ourselves at our parents. At dusk, we ventured out during a brief break in the rain. Our walk was interrupted when we encountered water encroaching up the back street of the neighborhood. We determined we had no way to safely move my father and we would have to shelter in place.
By midnight, along with our parents’ caregiver, Missy, we decided to leave my 86-year old mother sleeping on the sofa so she would be near. My father, the same age but in worse physical condition, was in his hospital bed in a bedroom. Both suffered from advanced Alzheimer-related dementia and other health issues.
The three of us watched from the front porch as the water crept up the street towards us, steadily higher, steadily closer. I called 911 and my husband; Karen called and texted other relatives. The water surged past the sidewalk. Neighbors waded by, stopping to comment as if looking for validation to leave. “I can’t swim,” one woman whimpered. I reassured her, “GO!”
The water reached the foundation. From South Carolina, my husband advised me to continue calling 911 despite no answer. When I reported to him at 2:30 a.m. that water was flowing into the house from the northeast at an alarming rate, he told me to measure the rise, critical information if 911 answered. (Dutifully I measured: 1/2 inch every ten minutes, assessed three times over 45 minutes.) No one ever answered at 911; I understand why.
At 3:15, as the water swirled around our ankles, Andy was not so gentle in his directive that we throw the main breaker… emphatically advising not to touch the metal box and that we use a wooden stick. Being hearing impaired, I repeated his orders aloud to ensure I understood. Before I could comply, Karen rushed to the outside breaker box. I screamed after her Andy’s caution about not touching the box. I wasn’t sure she heard. Missy and I held our breath. The lights went out… and through the darkness Karen waded safely back to us. My parents slept.
At 4:00 a.m., I told my husband I needed to tell him something, but would contradict what I said to him with two statements: I NEED YOU HERE! But, 1) you can’t get here; and 2) I don’t know what you’d do if you could.
I didn’t know he and our adult son Jason departed for Baton Rouge shortly thereafter, our F250 truck bed loaded with water, non-perishable food, clothes and extra diesel for the 14-hour drive. Aware of the highway blockages, they traveled I-55 rather than I-10. Under the telephone guidance of relatives in Plaquemine, specifically nephew Rondy, they exited at McComb. Unsure of a route, they questioned a clerk at a small country store. She suggested a secondary road route that MIGHT get them into Baton Rouge. (She steered them right… Bless her.)
We communicated our situation to our beloved niece Lori Vaughn and her husband, Jeremy, residents of Addis. They had performed boat rescues in Livingston Parish until midnight and had returned home exhausted. They responded to our desperate calls and texts, despite encountering road closures and a tire blowout on I-10. They reached Millerville Road with their bateau just before dawn and boated to Flannery Road.
Dry pavement at Goodwood Boulevard prevented them from getting closer. Jeremy and his friend, Bradley Smith, stayed with the boat. Lori ran down Flannery Road to Darwin Boulevard.
Coincidentally, the neighbor across the street, “Z”, had already convinced the East Side Fire Department airboat captain to travel to our block. His pregnant wife, Kendell, and their two small children remained in their home. Overhearing Z’s street address, Lori hopped into the boat, explaining that her invalid grandparents across the street needed rescue as well.
After Z’s family was loaded, Lori directed the pilot to us. I cringed as the crew broke my mother’s crape myrtle limbs to get to the house. The captain demanded a description of our occupants. Lori and Missy explained. “There’s only room for two,” he said to his crew. I yelled, “KAREN, YOU TAKE MAMA!” I felt all eyes turn, assessing me; Karen pointed inside to the sofa. I added more softly, “Missy and I will stay with Dad.” Missy’s eyes met mine, she nodded and I was relieved she concurred. The airboat captain directed his crew inside.
Three firemen waded in to get my sleeping mother; one carried her out. Drowsy but awake, her eyes met mine. “Mama, you look like a damsel in distress,” I called to her trying to keep her anxiety in check. She smirked and winked at me.
Karen’s face was stricken and pale as the firemen eased my mother onto the seat next to her. Kendell’s one-year-old son, meeting my mother's eyes, smiled and reached out to an elderly lady he had never met. In doing so, he unknowingly diverted her attention from the specter of her inundated home where she and my father planned to spend their final days.
Karen pleaded to the pilot to warn them before starting the boat’s engine lest our mother panic. Taking her cue, I called out, “Mama, have a fun boat ride,” as the airboat floated backwards. You would have thought she was at an amusement park. Her face lit, she waved vigorously and called back, “You have a fun ride, too!” Even the airboat pilot smiled. The engine noise didn’t faze her. Karen called out, “Get my bag!” And my sister, my mother and her wheelchair disappeared into the morning’s first light.
Missy and I turned our attention to my sleeping father. The hip-level water lapped towards the bottom of his hospital bed mattress. An hour passed. The water kept rising. Missy urgently suggested we float him on the mattress through the water. A single vision of him sinking punctured my brain… “NO!” I shoved the image from my mind.
Instead, I floundered through the water room to room, screaming aloud, “THINK, THINK,” as I searched for something to raise the bedframe. Brown water eddied about my hips, unknown floating things wrapped around my legs – I shuttered and fought back rising bile, hoping it was one of my mother’s artificial ferns. The saturated carpet puffed up under my feet with every stumbling step. From a distant reality, reason dictated that the 800-year old silkscreen my mother brought back from Japan and her 1965 bowling trophy floating in murky water didn't matter.
I called my husband. I wailed, “They’re not coming back…” He commanded: "STAY FOCUSED," when my voice broke and tears threatened. The call connection failed.
Missy and I cleared my father’s potty and shower chairs, attempting to use them to raise the bedframe. It didn’t work: current in the swirling water made the bed float. She whispered, “We should never have said the word hospice.” Tears welled in our eyes.
Only then did we hear the airboat engine’s deep roar returning.
She was nearest the door. “DON’T LET THEM PASS!” I screamed. I think she fell into the water twice getting outside. She didn’t fail me… or my father. We didn’t know that Lori had implored the airboat rescuers to return for my father. Commandeered might be the more accurate verb. Many others awaited rescue.
I made my way to the porch and sobbed in relief, demanding they throw me the bow line. They didn’t. (They didn’t’ know I work a farm, large animals, hay bales, heavy equipment...) A fireman jumped out and gently advised, “We got this, mam.” I clenched my fingernails into the aluminum bow anyway, groaning and straining to maintain my hold as the boat shifted in the current. My heart broke as I witnessed Lori’s heavy, wincing sob, and then she reminded the rescuers of my father’s condition.
I cried out to no one in particular. “HE’S WORTH SAVING! HE MOVES HIS EYES WHEN YOU TALK TO HIM! There was no sound as the captain studied me, and then nodded to his crew to proceed. Moments later, the firemen carried my father, wincing and moaning, out in a sling made from his bed linens. They laid him across the bow. I crouched beside him supporting his head. A fireman steadied his legs and feet. And we drifted away from my parents’ home.
“Dad, did you ever think you’d get another boat ride?” (Decades past, my father’s pride and joy was a 1957 Chris Craft ski rig, and he had fished local rivers.) His eyes shifted to mine, his brow furrowed. He did not understand. I assured him Mama was safe with Karen. His jaw relaxed. The pilot started the engine. My father jerked in alarm, his eyes darting in the direction of the noise. “You’re getting an airboat ride… didn’t you go in one once before?” His brow and neck relaxed, his eyes returned to mine and he smiled.
Neighbors called out for rescue as we passed. The captain yelled back, explaining he had an emergency and promised to return for them. When Missy stated a Florida Boulevard nursing home was waiting for my father to shelter-in-place, he yelled to his crew, “I can get him there!”
And so my father had an unexpected adventure in his last days. The breeze ruffled his thin white hair. I asked him if he could smell the river water. (It had not yet begun to reek.) He wrinkled his nose and inhaled. His face was peaceful; he beamed as the airboat cruised carefully to dry land. I believe it was his last cognitive response.
Lori and I, along with a couple of the firemen, were ordered off the airboat at Flannery Road. Missy was allowed to stay with my father. At Florida Boulevard, dry pavement interrupted the pilot’s path. They waited over an hour for a police cruiser to arrive. Dad was transported to the awaiting nursing home – we weren’t sure which one – laid across the backseat.
The firemen told us that Karen and Mama might be at the Flannery Road BREC evacuation center. We didn’t know that Kendell’s father had transported them there. Lori and I trudged to the center, struggling with the weight of Karen’s bag and garbage bags holding clothing changes for my parents, their prescription lockbox and medical devices, and linens for them.
We had to stop several times to catch our breath and adjust our loads. I called my husband to advise him of our rescue. Several evacuees stopped and asked to use my phone, anxious to contact loved ones. No one had phone service… except me on my out-of-state device. I could reach South Carolina, but not anywhere in the Baton Rouge area.
A young man on Flannery Road didn't hesitate to help me secure my sister's hefty duffel bag onto my shoulders as if it were a backpack. Without his help, I might have left it on the side of the road. On our way back to Houston twenty days later, Karen thanked me. I didn’t know her critical prescriptions and medical apparatus were in the bag.
Lori found Karen and Mama in the BREC center. Everyone else had evacuated when the building started to flood. Mama had fallen asleep on her cot; Karen asked to wait until the last minute so Mama could rest. The water was ankle deep and rising, so Lori pushed Mama in her wheelchair out of that danger and down Flannery Road to Jeremy’s bateau.
Not only were Jeremy and his friend Bradley Smith waiting for us, but so were neighbors Kendall, Z and her father. They waited at Goodwood Boulevard over two hours to make sure my mother was safely united with us. Bless them.
Jeremy and Bradley placed my mother in her wheelchair in Jeremy’s bateau. Karen, Lori and I climbed in, steadying her chair on all sides, and we boated our way onto Old Hammond Highway. My mother’s eyes were bright; she held herself regally in her wheelchair like Cleopatra on her Nile barge. I told her so; she giggled in delight.
We passed Winn-Dixie; the parking lot was commandeered as a helicopter basket-lift rescue center. We watched a Coast Guard helicopter lower its basket. The payload master, seeing my mother waving and blowing kisses to him urgently signaled his pilot up and away lest their turbulence rock our boat… and Cleopatra’s throne.
Two strangers in another boat made wide berth around us, flailing through downed tree tops to avoid upsetting our bateau’s precious cargo. They called out for us to stay safe; one voice seemed very familiar. Later, I learned my husband’s nephew, Rondy, was performing rescues in that area, at that exact time. He was trying to find my parents’ home.
A burly gentleman waved to my mother from the second story of a flooded apartment building, and he called out to her to stay safe. “Staying safe,” was the greeting du jour. His laugh echoed across the water when she yelled back the same to him, and blew him a kiss.
On Millerville Road, state police SWAT team members were waiting to load us from the bateau into an open-back, deep-water Humvee. They were especially doting with my mother and, were even more so, upon my niece realizing that one was the son of a lifelong family friend. Seeing those camouflaged, armed officers graciously accept and return my mother’s blown kisses is an image that defies description.
Two younger men sat next to me in the Humvee and seemed in mild shock. From our high perspective, they scanned the thousand plus people wandering lost. Their comments were laced with profanities. Once on dry land though, one of them lunged to steady the 14-foot ladder my mother had to descend. He implored her, “Come on nice lady, you can do it!” He also received her demure blush and air kiss. He laughed and smiled. Bless him as well.
My thanks go out to countless strangers, who offered water and anything else they had to offer to help my barefoot mother, clad in a gown, robe and her heavy winter coat (her slippers lost). For over an hour, she sat patient and sweet, watching from a folding chair on the shoulder of Millerville. (Only then did I realize she was barefoot, so I put my oversized shoes on her. She commented she had bought them last week and was thinking of purchasing a second pair.)
I was baffled when my beautiful niece Lori ripped off what was left of her banana yellow slicker pants, torn when a fireman hoisted her into the airboat. My heart warmed when she used the remnants to successfully wrap and secure the frantic, scratching cat of the crying young woman with lime green striped hair. Lori makes me so proud.
The name of the kind stranger escaped me, who longingly eyed Jeremy’s empty boat trailer parked on Millerville Road. He was unable to get to his mother stranded alone in Centurion Place; she called him several times while he stood with us. He hovered nervously as Jeremy explained we couldn’t leave to find my father because his bateau had been confiscated, along with friend Bradley, to continue rescues. The stranger offered to drive my sister, mother and I to the uncertain shelter-in-place facility, in exchange for the chance to use Jeremy's boat to get to his mother. (After a brief family conference, we gratefully accepted his offer. And I said a prayer that he wasn’t a deranged killer.)
We will remain forever grateful to the assisted living facility that provided shelter-in-place bed space to my parents… until it was evacuated in the middle of Monday night. My mother greatly enjoyed the spectacle of the multitude of ambulances parked along the Florida Boulevard service road, all lights flashing, while she waited her turn to be transported to another facility. “It’s so pretty; I wonder what’s going on,” she commented several times.
I thank Miss Evelyn, who shared her room for several hours with my mother. She waited in her wheelchair in the hall so we could have privacy to get Mama’s wet clothing changed. Her courtesy wasn’t necessary, but is affectionately noted. As well, I am indebted to Miss Lori, another wheelchair-bound resident. She insisted that I rest on her bed and gave me clean socks after I worried that my legs would soil her bed linens. I will return her socks, along with new ones, on my next trip to Baton Rouge. And my thanks to the kitchen manager for the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I ever ate.
Our family is especially thankful to the rehabilitation hospital that provided bed space for my parents and five other wheelchair-bound residents evacuated from the first facility. There I learned, for the first time in my life, the privilege of hands-on helping others: Miss Evelyn; Miss Lisa; Miss Amy; and Mrs. Gwen. During this crisis, I watched Angels operate – namely Missy, despite having lost her Central home and vehicle to the flood - giving of themselves to others and my family despite exhaustion and personal loss. My parents’ other primary caregivers, Celeste and Lucinda, came by and telephoned, concerned about my mom and dad’s well-being. Lucinda lost her home as well. Words are insufficient.
My father wanted to die in his home, but Nature intervened. We failed to honor his wishes by three days. He passed in the rehabilitation hospital under shelter-in-place conditions.
I thank the kind staff of Green Oaks/Dignity Memorial Services, namely Mr. Marvin and Ms. Jerri, who helped us prepare and conduct a funeral for my father in the aftermath of disaster. And they promised that the “real” burial – once the ground is sufficiently dry – is included in the price and awaits our participation. My Scottish father hopefully is proud that we secured two funerals for the price of one.
Her name is lost: I am indebted to the J.C. Penney clerk who devoted over an hour to help me select my father’s final attire… along with shirts and ties for my husband and son who drove down with clothes fit only for demolition work. I also acknowledge the charity of the other shopper, the woman purchasing a burial outfit for her son’s friend who perished in the flood. He was from out-of-town and without family. Angels and heroes work in many ways.
Hospice Chaplain Eddie, having only met my father once, conducted a fitting eulogy for him and helped us appropriately honor our father’s life and achievements with less than two hours planning. I thank him again for helping us reach the Central Masonic Lodge. Despite the Lodge’s destruction and participating members’ personal losses, they responded to our father’s one long-standing request: that he receive Masonic death rites. Our gratitude is beyond measure.
Our heartfelt thanks also go to Ara, our son’s lifelong friend in the Carolinas, who rang the #3 cast iron plantation bell from my father’s Arkansas family farm. He rang it five times on the day of my father’s death (as my father had stipulated when he deeded the bell to our farm). Ara traveled to our farm a second time to ring my father’s bell five times during his eulogy, broadcast to all attending over my son’s mobile phone. (And he feed our animals while we were away!)
We are especially indebted to my husband’s sister Sherron. She opened her home and lent us her vehicle. (Karen’s car “drowned” under my parents’ carport.) Without that soft place to fall, with hotels full and rental cars not to be found, we would not have been able to have this time with my parents. We would not have been able to secure a safe place for my mother. I cannot imagine what we would have done.
While Karen and I raced against escalating market demand to find a new home for our mother, appropriate for her medical needs, Andy and Jason labored to save my parents’ home. With Jeremy’s help, they emptied my parents’ home of its destroyed contents, saved the few precious salvageable items and spent long hours to create a competitive heap of wallboard, furniture and sodden memories on the curb.
The loss of my parents’ home coinciding with my father’s passing seems Shakespearean. They would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary in December. Almost everything that documents their lives together is gone... except digital photographs and those of us that live.
I hesitate to be thankful for my mother’s dementia. I know of only two times that she mentioned “home” and the subject passed from her thoughts. She had moments of clarity about my Dad’s death. Those too passed quickly. Unlike her, the rest of my family and I are left with memories of a horrible event marking tremendous change in our family. But I am also blessed to have been here when my parents’ need was greatest, been here to witness my father joyfully experience one last boat ride, been here to revel in my mother’s triumphant cruise.
As a firsthand witness to the goodness of strangers and family alike, I am compelled to share these moments and attributes. As I initially stated, this is not my story. As Jeremy says, “This is what you do for family.” Yes, but family has taken on a whole new meeting.
My observations are simply documentation of heroes beyond measure, heroes that surfaced from the unexpected. It is incomplete. I received countless hugs from strangers. I believe I was here for obvious reasons, but also to relate the goodness of the people of the Baton Rouge area and their unconquerable, giving spirit. I am humbled to be a recipient of these kindnesses.
I no longer live in Baton Rouge. But for the first time I realize, I am proud to be of this place, this city, and these people. I thank you all.
— Submitted by Barbara Bradford
This story is a reflection of my time, during The Historic Flood 2016.
I'm 53 yrs old, live in Jena, La, and have been employed by Total Live In Care out of Denham Springs, for the last 9 yrs. I am a medical assistant , doing private care with the elderly, and consider Baton Rouge, my second home.
Never in my life, have I experienced, or gone thru a flood of any kind. But, I ha c e to say, Baton Rouge, once again proved to me, that there are in fact good, selfless, people I'm this city. As I prepare to tell my story, I want to say how truly thankful I am, to live in and work in a city that falls together in times of emergency. It shows me also, that if you pray for a community healing, God, will show you the way to pull everyone together as one compassionate human race.
On Friday morning , my 2 patients, one a WWII NAVY VETERAN, J.C. BALLARD, AND 87 YR OLD WIFE, LOUVENIA, we're getting nervous over the rising water. Then they recieve the calls from 2 of their 3 children, that their houses were taking on water in Central. They were devestating over the news and although only 1/2hr. Away, we felt like we were isolated and helpless. Be gore going to bed , we Blessed the house with Holy Water for a hedge of protection. Saturday was basically a repeat, and as night fell, we Blessed the house again. Kind of uneasy, we went on to bed, and I was awaken at 3:38am, by the daughter and her husband, Robert and Carla Kusch, with the question of, " is Mom's House flooding?" I sd , not that I'm aware of. She then told me to go outside and look and see if I see water? As I look left and right, PANIC! Yes, I see the reflection from both directions. We live on W. Tams Dr., and both ends of our street were going under from the canals on each side of us. As Carla was on the phone with me, Robert was on the phone with his good friend, the one who called to tell them , his mother in law was already flooded and she only lives in the next block from us. So, Carla says, the national guard boat is coming. I now have only 15 minutes to get myself, and both patients and their supplies they need, to be ready to go. Villa Del Rey Subdivision was going under. As I hurried to gather them and their things along with mine, I was mentally preparing to walk off and leave my car and their home, to its own fate. I gathered, insurance papers, hygein products, changes of clothes, and their medications, and made the phone call to my family at home, we were being displaced to who knows where. I moved them in their wheelchairs to the garage with their things, and we waited and watched the water steady coming. Robert and Leland stayed on the phone trying to come up with a plan to get us out. After they exhausted all rescues in their minds, Leland said, Robert, I'm going to go get them in my 4 wheel drive. About then, is when AT&T tower went down. Deadly Erie silence.
I kept trying to call 911. When they finally answered, they informed me that 10,000 plus people needed to be rescued. Now, I'm panicing. When low and behold, I hear a voice? Hello? Oh my gosh, Jesus just answered our cries for help.
Mam, I'm Leland Denison. Robert and Carla Kusch, sent me for yall. As we were fixing to go, he said mam, I can get these cars but we have literally a 3 minute window. My instructions were...
You stay directly behind that 4 wheel drive, do do get from behind it and stay on the bumper. So as the truck peeled the water back, I drove my car in the truck tracks and Mr. DENISON, drove the Ballard's car behind mine. After about a couple of blocks, driving thru the water, we were out of the neighborhood to saftey. We went to Mr.Denison's dad's house, and found out that his dad is a retired State Police Captain, and was stranded on I12 in the water.
Not until afterwards, did we find out, that despite all Mr. Denison himself was going thru, he stayed on the phone with Robert, to make sure we were out of the neighborhood to safety. His in laws were flooded, his dad was stranded, and he lost his business, ANTIQUE PINE PRODUCTS 2610 EAST PERDUE AVE BATON ROUGE LA 80814
To a total loss from the flood.
Oi feel that after the selfless time and effort he put into saving someone else's family during a time of total loss and devestation in his own life, deserved to be heard by the people of Baton Rouge. As with many other people's stories, it show the humanity and goodness that still remains in the heart and souls of the Cajon Navy, and the 1st responders. Of our city. In the time of need, there weren't any colors, just people needing each other, and they stepped up and out to help others. I want to personally thank Mr. Denison, for 1, alerting Robert Kusch of the emergency and continuing contact with him until there was a solution made happen.
Thank you Leland Denison, you saved our lives from uncertainty and unknown demise. Thank you to all the 1st responders that sacrificed everything to help others. Thank you to law enforcement as well. Some running on adrenalin, when so many of them list the same things as the ones they were helping. So many stepped up with personal vehicles and boats and just a friendly smile of hug to complete strangers, that literally were on the verge of giving up.
I hope I never experience this again, but if I do, I hope for it to be handled like the people of Baton Rouge did. It truly was an example of a community falling together and uniting as one in a tragic time of need.
— Submitted by Bill & Cherie Brumfield
Our Cajun Navy hero, Benjamin Farrell, arrived with two others ( names not known) in his boat to rescue us off our back deck Sunday 9/14 after our S. Harrells Ferry Rd subdivision street had turned into a raging river with white cap currents that had prevented others from being able to rescue us. We had given up rescue hope and were preparing ourselves for living in @ 2 ft nasty water when heard the call "anyone needing rescue or help?" coming from our backyard where Mr Farrell's team had grabbed our iron fence to hold the boat against the strong current. We grabbed our prepacked bag of change of clothes & necessities & raced outside having to climb over our wood deck fence to get into the boat and off we went through flooded subdivisions and down Jones Creek ( now River) for safe deposit on O'Neil near George O'Neil Lane. But to my dismay we discovered my small suitcase with its dry clothes & comfort items had been left behind on our back deck island. " Don't worry I'll go back & get it for you ", Mr Farrell related, and within an hour he did return with others they had rescued and my blue bag. What a relief to not only be safe & sound away from that nasty raising turrent but also to now even have dry clean clothes to change into. Thank you forever Benjamin Farrell & crew - We are so Louisiana Proud & eternally grateful
Tyler Rivet, Captain Darryl Armentor
— Submitted by Jerry Linebaugh, Denham Springs
During this disaster or the Great Flood of 2016 I was in and affected directly by THIS disaster. I lost my office but thankfully not my home.
Even though my livelihood was underwater and possibly my home as the waters were still rising, I did what I could from where I was at. I can't imagine anyone thinking or doing differently at least as far as anyone I know. As the disaster unfolded, I used my HAM radio to coordinate locations for other radio operators that could direct boat traffic on the ground. I would watch the Louisiana Flood Rescue August 2016 page and coordinate health and welfare and rescue needs using my HAM radio equipment. For some of the coordination I used my cell phone and coordinated info that way as well.
I would like to introduce Tyler Rivet from Raceland La. He is not a HAM but had a reliable phone. He was put in touch with me through my network of rescue volunteers established from previous disasters. He is a Nicholes State college student with a big heart and great recruiting and leadership skills. He was not a HAM radio operator but with his cell phone I was able to place him near an area that he could help and immediately become part of the Cajun Navy. He recruited nearly 30 other boat owners and operators. They all came up mostly from the Raceland La area and worked tirelessly starting in Ascension parish with rescue then pulled out and came to Livingston parish to help muck out houses. They brought their boats and did rescue work. Then they came back doing muck out showing long lasting and unbelievable spirt and love for their Lousiana citizen family.
After the boat rescue needs subsided they asked me where to point them for continued support. I sent them to a neighborhood in Walker Louisiana where every home in this neighborhood was flooded. One of the families they were immediately able to help muck out was Captain Darryl Armentor's home. Interestingly Captain Armentor was still doing his job being head of the marine unit for EBR Sheriff's office. Being on duty he himself could not attend to his own home so it was great seeing that this daisy chain of volunteers could connect to help him and his family.
They helped several others in that same subdivision. They helped an elderly couple as well Buddy and Elisabeth Burkett. Also Laura and Daniel Turner.
Gary Miller, Ralph Ostermann
— Submitted by Michele Casi
Both gentleman live on my street and while their home was not damaged by the flood, 50% of our neighborhood was.
I arrived back home the evening that flood waters receded from my house. As a single mother with no family for 700 miles, I was faced with a huge task to remove furniture and carpet from my home. They helped me remove these items that night.
Over the next two weeks, they both worked tirelessly in our neighborhood. Some of the things they did included housing and comforting elderly neighbors, gutting houses, cooking dinner each night for the entire neighborhood, lending tools, doing laundry, and the list goes on.
As of today, they still have three people living in their home that lost everything including a senior citizen, a single mother, and a nine year old child.
They helped save an entire neighborhood and I hope they can be recognized.
Gerald and son Remington
— Submitted by Susan Behrens
I'd like to submit a young man, Gerald and his son, Remington, to be recognized for their help to my family during the flood. Sunday morning, August 14, I checked on my niece to see how she was doing with the weather events. She told me someone had knocked at her door earlier saying to get out, the water was rising. It was too deep for her to drive out, but a friend was working on someone to come get her. Checking with her throughout the day, no one ever came for her. It was getting dark and the water was rising in her yard, so my son and I headed over to try to get her somehow.
We were trying to get help from the State Policeman blocking the entrance ramp on I12 at Sherwood Forest when along came this huge truck going the wrong way headed off the interstate. I stepped in front of the truck, waved my arms and the driver stopped. "What can I do for you mam?" he asked. "You can help me get my niece and her two big dogs and cat out of her house." I said. "Where does she live?" "Over there." I said just pointing without saying exactly where. "Well, come on! Let's go get her." That's exactly what Gerald and Remington did. They took my son and me to get her after dark. They had been rescuing folks for a couple of days and we're heading home to St. Francisville, but took time and energy to help one more family who was in need! They weren't in a boat, but that truck drove in water deep enough for a boat and they and my son waded through waist deep water to get my niece and her fur babies to the safety of that remarkable craft....yes, they were part of the Cajun Navy during those days!
Grateful for the help we received
Joni Rushing, Nicole Andrews, Brandon Cassel
— Submitted by Louise Jeter, Baton Rouge
Rescued: Amy Gonzales and her children, Isabella Joyce (13) and Christopher (8) and dog Lucy
Heros: Joni Rushing, Cajun Navy Dispatcher, responded to Louise’s Facebook post that her family was desperate for a rescue in the Northwoods area of Central. Her contact with Nicole Andrews and Brandon Cassels, Cajun Navy friends in the field, brought their boat to Amy and her family. Mr. Cassel’s son and Mike Duplesis in a side by side assisted.
Christopher tells, I will never forget it. We had just moved to Central and spent four nights in our home. It rained a lot. On Saturday I was playing outside when my mom said, ‘a wall of water is coming from the front of the neighborhood’ and very quickly the water was too deep for us to get out in my mother’s car. The water was then coming from a canal in the back of our house, too. It started to come into our house. My dad was out of town in his truck. We called for a rescue, but no one had come. It was getting dark. Most of the neighbors had left, but didn’t have room for us in their trucks. Some of the neighbors were on their roofs. We were getting scared. Then my Grammy Louise got her wonderful friend, Joni Rushing, to help get us a boat. The rescue boat with kids and dog was pushed out by Nicole and Brandon. Mrs. Rushing not only arranged our rescue, she drove to Demco to wait for us and made sure we got to a safe place. The entire time she was texting and coordinating with all the people involved. We finally were able to get to my Grammy’s house. We were safe and hungry.”
Other notes: Brandon’s home flooded while he was out rescuing. Joni Rushing, Nicole Andrews, and Louise Jeter all work for the Central Community School System.
Kirk Daniel Martin
— Submitted by IRENE H MARTIN
I consider my son a Hero. He has served as a State Trooper in Troop A since 1993. He was undercover and made Huge Bust until he wanted to start a family and got into regular duty. In Nov. of 2003, he went into Albertson's on Highland Road
to purchase a Thanksgiving Dinner for a poor family. 3 men were robbing the Chase Bank in the grocery store and they thought he was coming after them and shot at him 5 times and hit him 3 times!!! One missed his heart about 1/4 of an inch!!!!
During the flood, he rescued people from Livingston Parish, in a boat, for 4 days. He helped many others, in other ways, as he always does. He is the type that will give his shirt off his back to help another. (above and beyond duty) I am so proud of him and would like him to be recognized. He is Lieutenant Kirk Daniel Martin.
— Submitted by Sherye spikes
As a parent you always think your son or daughter are the best. My son, Patrick Spikes, once again proved to me just what type of man he is. During the recent historic flooding that occurred in Baton Rouge, Patrick with the help of two fellow coaches he teaches and coaches with at Parkview Baptist School, set out to rescue my 88 year old mother and his aunt and uncle that were in town visiting from Georgia. Each of the coaches had only a kayak in which they used to paddle into the flooded neighborhood of Park Forest where my mother lived.. Once they reached her home and rescued them, they waded in water that was at least five feet or more to bring them to dry land. As they were making their way to and from my mother’s home, they saw people of all ages, race, as well as those who were disabled pleading for them to help. They knew that they had to go back and help as many people as they could because the water was rising so fast and they may be the only hope they had of getting to safety. For hours they made their way back and forth bringing people to dry land.
Patrick continued to help rescue people all night and the next day bringing them to shelters throughout the city. Like so many others, he is helping his family and friends with the cleanup efforts from this major flood. I always knew that Patrick had a big heart and a true servants heart. In college he would take his allowance money that we would give him and make sandwiches and bring to the homeless that were on the street. It was no surprise to me as to how and what he would do in this most tragic event.
Although my son did not serve in the U.S. Navy like his dad, I can proudly say he is now an official member and served in the Cajun Navy. I know that one day when he stands before the Lord he is going to say to Patrick, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
— Submitted by Jamie Politz
As the proud Mom of a man always ready to help anyone at anytime, I am nominating my son, Shane Marchand, as he was a Cajun Navy volunteer.
On the very first day of the major rains, several co-workers of his wife called to see if he could assist them in leaving their homes. These people live in Baton Rouge off of Mancuso Lane area and were watching their streets flooding and onto their yards. If the water continued to rise, they would need to be evacuated. Shane prepared his boat so he could leave on a moments notice to evacuate them if needed. Fortunately for them, they never needed to be evacuated.
As the rain continued and flooding was beginning everywhere, he decided to drive to areas needing assistance. First responders on sites directed him to areas in need of assisting with evacuation, including Woodland Ridge. There was so much flooding, many homes were becoming islands, with no view of streets or mediums. Many families, all family members, and pets were evacuated and taken to higher, safe, dry land by the volunteer boats. Many residents chose to remain in their homes, others asked to be checked back on later. It was always explained there was no guarantee of who would be back in the area to evacuate those who stayed. And, there was always a discussion to get the resident/residents to evacuate at the time the volunteer boat was currently available.
Amidst all of the despair, there are a couple of events that shows the status of those impacted and how the volunteers just went with the flow in dealing with all of those residents:
while in Woodland Ridge and going up to a house totally surrounded with water and where they were beckoned, only to be informed that the street was a two lane with a medium and the boat was not in a correct lane nor going in the correct direction and they were not evacuating. That was definitely a "Are you kidding me" moment. Another time, a woman in high-heeled boots trying to walk in mud and getting stuck repeatedly to be rescued shows the magnitude of those affected and their determination to hang on to a possession. And, those Volunteers knew their despair and handled those in need with patience.
Shane's in-laws have lived in Central for most of their lives, never had a drop of water at their house and, yet lost most everything, with flooding up to the eaves of their house. And, yet he was part of the Cajun Navy in other parts of area that flooded.
This horrible event affected everyone and could have been much worse had it not been for Shane and other Cajun Navy volunteers.
— Submitted by Billy and Jessie Judge
My husband and I were rescued by boat, Friday, August 12th at 6 PM by a very special person named Tim Mayeaux, plumber/maintenance. He took us to Hooper Road where we boarded a school bus to Central Middle School. I’m sure he could have been doing something better for himself, but he chose to risk his own safety to help us.
We have lived here for 49 years and water has never stood in the yard. We were very fortunate we didn’t get water into our house, nor or vehicle flooded. We want to thank Tim Mayeaux again.
— Submitted by Ruby Henagan, Baton Rouge
It was Friday August 12th, the rain started but not bad. I’m Ruby Henagan & got two daughters age 56 and 13 years old that live with me. I’m 78 years old & living on 19% kidney functions & both knees are out. I’m in a wheel chair. Sat. morning we awoke to flooded streets & couldn’t get out. We worried all day & Eileen finally was able to get on the radio & ask for someone to rescue us. Mrs. Cookie on our corner street’s grandson heard the radio message & started looking for us. I was on the porch when he appeared saying that he had been looking for us. He put me in a kayak with my wheel chair & the girls got in another boat with our small dog Markie. We was brought to Sherwood Forest North from Cape Hatteras in Park Forest. A cop van brought us to Choctaw railroad tracks, before we got there the cop almost went into a deep ditch because he couldn’t see where the road was. Eileen my daughter wheeled me to St. Louis King of France school where we got a ride to my grand daughter’s house. The next morning at 4:30 we had to run again the water was coming into her road on Wood Cliff Ave. We then went to a motel for over night. My son Dan had gone to Alaska & he sent his next door neighbor to get us from the motel. We stayed 2 nights there at Dan’s house. We could not stay because his house was on the other side of town near L.S.U. lakes. I had to be home for all the legal things that needed to be done. The MS was called out for me one night because I was under some stress. I went to my niece’s house in Jeanerette for 3 days. I felt better & now me & my girls are in the gutted house living. We lost everything but we are grateful that the angel come by for us, I do not know his name, he just appeared out of nowhere. We now have us T.V., telephone, air conditioning & my friend that I hadn’t seen in 65 years come from Dry Prong, Carinne Fisher, brought us groceries and water. We had some items from ReMax & also from St. Louis King of France school. My son has helped us & guided us from where he was as well. A nightmare I’ll always remember.
Jim, Ross, Harris & Shine of Jim’s Firearms
— Submitted by Bernice & Charley Hoffman, Mandeville
As we watched the sewerage and flood water rise inch by inch we prayed that our grandson Reed would find a way. At 3 pm on Sunday, Aug. 14th, he arrived with men of the Cajun Navy. A boat from Jim’s Firearms with Jim, his workers Ross, Harris & Shine was a sight we’ll never forget. They were so caring & reminded us we needed meds, important papers, jewelry & even suggested I get a jacket since it was still raining. We are in our mid 80’s & my husband was very ill with an infection & very weak. Riding to dry land was an adventure and they made us feel safe & cared for. My husband offered a cash thank you and three times they adamantly refused. They responded “We are fellow Baton Rougeans helping out. God bless the Cajun Navy!!!
Joe Cook and friend Mr. Williams
— Submitted by Joanie & Glenn Battle, Central
About noon on Saturday, August 13, 2016 with water rising like it had never done before, 2 men, namely Joe Cook of Central, who just happened to be a long time family friend and his friend Mr. Williams, first name not known, came to our front door and insisted that we leave the house in 15 minutes because water was coming in from everywhere. We were stunned to hear what they had to say but very grateful for their strong helping hands and hearts. My husband Glenn had an injured foot and was lifted out of the house and into the boat belonging to Mr. Williams. They helped me get in the boat with a small tote bag of clothes and medicine. They then loaded our neighbor and her pet dog. They carefully locked the door behind them and started their rescue trip in a very calm, careful but urgent manner. They were positive about their mission to get us to dry ground. This trip was one of more than 60 trips in the area! They put us on dry ground and an unknown woman in a truck brought us to a business on Hooper Road at Sullivan Road where we were picked up by another long time family friend and his family. Sterling Kidder and his wife Randee and their daughter Cameron Rose. Randee rode in the back of their truck so we would have a comfortable place to ride to our son and daughter-in-law’s house off of Jefferson hwy. Michael and Lisa Battle, where we were welcomed with open arms and caring hearts. It is now September 7 and we are still welcome and very grateful for their generosity and hospitality. My daughter and son-in-law, Missy and Collin Avery, rallied around us as we tried to understand what had just happened to us! They were so comforting and compassionate. These are the heroes of the day that we were rescued and in the days to follow up to the present time. We have been reminded of how good people really are as they continue to lift us up and through a time that we never dreamed possible. We salute the Cajun Navy and our first responders! Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts!! We love you all!!
Cajun Navy and First Responders
— Submitted by Martin A. Brignac Sr., Baton Rouge
Angels in Heaven
Don’t get the blues
They don’t have to bother
With clothing and shoes
They use their wings
When they move around
And their feet don’t ever
Touch the ground.
But here on Earth
It’s a different story
We have many around
And they don’t seek glory.
You don’t see wings
When they move around
They use their feet
They walk on the ground.
It’s so very easy
To tell them apart
Just look for that person
With the oversized heart.
A great big thank you to all those who helped any of the thousands of people who needed assistance.
What a great state and you won’t find greater friends anywhere.
— Submitted by Ronald & Mary Greaud, Denham Springs
God woke me up
We had watched the rain water rise all day Friday. It flooded streets in Baton Rouge and in our area of Watson. We watched our back yard disappear into the little lake behind us. We were not alarmed because we were used to the rain. We went to bed that night with the rain water receding in our back yard. Early the next morning I woke up to make a trip to the bathroom; afterwards I got back in bed only to be awoken to the sound of our commode gurgling. As I got out of bed I stood up in ankle deep water. My old kitty, Maxine, was standing by the bed with water up to her stomach. She was looking at me as to say “save me”!! I screamed and called to my husband who jumped up and started to check all the doors. Being an optimist I put a towel at the back door which already had eight sandbags there. My husband said pack a bag and we need to get out of here. We put our kitty into her carrier. I called my daughter who lives less than a mile away. She did not have flooding but had had high water the day before. She called a friend, Rebecca, whose husband is a Sheriff’s Deputy. Rebecca said she would help us by sending a boat to pick us up. But every time a boat would come our way they would have to rescue someone else. By that time our furniture was floating around us and our appliances were falling over. The water was almost to my shoulders. Ron stacked the furniture up by the front door and put Maxine there and told me not to move but to stand there and hold her carrier in place. He waded through the water to the garage and came back with an ax. He went up into the attic and told me to come there. All of a sudden I heard a power boat and looked out to see a big bass boat with two men in it. One of the men jumped out of the boat and I called to Ron. He opened the door and my daughter’s neighbor, Earl, scooped me up and put me into the boat. He helped Ron into the boat and got our bag and our kitty. He had found this man with this boat and asked him to help rescue us. I could hear a helicopter overhead and the little girls across the street were yelling for help. The guy said I will be back for you. He brought us to the front of our subdivision where our daughter was waiting for us. The neighbor up front helped us get to her. The man in the boat with Earl was going back in to save someone else. Earl was our “Hero” and the man was an angel in the “Cajun Navy.” Later we found out Earl had been trying to get to us for awhile but the current would carry him and his small boat away!! he was determined to save us and God sent him the “angel” in the boat.
Robert Wilson, son, Chandler Franklin
— Submitted by Mary Palazzolo Bordelon
On the night of Sunday, August 14, 2016, when flood water threatened my home, I decided at approximately 9:00 PM to leave with my friend Jodi Patterson and her son, Ian. Her friend Robin Stewart’s daughter Chelsea had made arrangements online for our rescue.
The driver of our boat was Mr. Robert Wilson. He was a skilled driver. His son, Chandler Franklin, was assisting us. This 14 year old was so polite! He carried my “Samsonite” luggage, a double garbage bag to keep contents dry and not weigh down the boat. There was a third man, Lucian Graves, who was stationed at the front of the boat to test with an oar the depth of the water for safe passage.
Water was everywhere! We went down the middle of our subdivision. Mr. Wilson took it really slow as it wasn’t a large boat. A large boat wouldn’t have made it. The owner of Cottonmouth Boats, Mr. Kevin Hanley had allowed Mr. Wilson to use one of his boats. Mr. Wilson had been rescuing people all that day and the day before.
An 18 wheeler was overturned in a ditch on LA Highway 42. We passed that. It was surreal! Jodi said it was like an episode of “The Walking Dead” and it did! Finally we made it to Mr. Wilson’s truck. We didn’t know if we could meet our ride. Mr. Wilson said he would take us to his home to meet his wife, Katie. They said we could stay there, if we couldn’t meet our ride. These were some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Katie offered to feed us. We had just met all of them for the first time that very night. While talking with his wife, we learned she has the Purple Rack Boutique on Airline in Prairieville near Albasha Restaurant. I’m coming to see you, Katie … Such nice people!