Come Hell or High Water

Oh, how we have seen both in the past week. The water hasn't nearly gone away, the rain insists on still falling, and everyone is focused on recovery.

Saturday morning, Highway 167 southbound.

We've seen the best in people - those who worked tirelessly to rescue residents. And the worst in people - those who still choose to loot and rob from the vulnerable.

It's still extremely surreal, even after looking at thousands of photos, both on the ground and from the air, to know that so much of our home has been underwater. Places that we all frequent. It's still so hard to wrap my head around that.

Heymann Park, along the Vermilion River, where I helped lead two groups of students painting park railings last fall.

Vermilionville flooded after the levee breached. The water reached the door knob of the Bayou Vermilion District office. Spots I was standing in just one week prior were now under feet of water. The spot where I photographed the candle I will be giving away (when the time is a little more right) is under feet of water. The no-till drill I wrote about is probably ruined, sitting in the shop, before it ever had a chance to serve its purpose. BVD employees are still kayaking to get to work and clean up.

The chapel at Vermilionville on Sunday, August 14.

One of the entrances to Vermilionville on Sunday, August 14.

During the Keep Lafayette Beautiful litter index survey last week, we toured parts of the city - and many of those parts ended up flooding. The photo I snapped of the illegally dumped recliner was taken near the bank of a bayou, so there's a good chance that recliner is now floating downstream.

So many homes were affected. Oh man, so many. It's hard to see yet another friend on social media posting photos of water damage in their home or their neighborhood submerged, or asking for help or advice or donations. If you weren't personally flooded, you know at least 10 people who were. It's mind-blowing.

Neighborhoods throughout Lafayette, Crowley, Branch, Abbeville, Maurice, Denham Springs, Central, Walker, Livingston, Baton Rouge and many more are focused on drying out and cleaning up.

Mother Nature has been so violent, unleashing the worst rain we've ever seen. We've done everything we can to protect our belongings and our worlds, but natures still knocks us down sometimes.

The Vermilion River at Surrey Street on Sunday, August 14, before the levee breached.

Through the heat and the God-awful smells, it's time to focus on cleaning up. The piles of contaminated and waterlogged debris are beginning to appear on curbs.

It's not the time for preaching about recycling your water bottles, or choosing reusable containers or bags. We all have a long road of recovery ahead, and the most important thing is keeping everyone safe, healthy and comfortable along the way. It's not anyone's fault; there's nothing sustainable about a devastating flood. There's not much that can be salvaged if it's been contaminated. It sucks to see so much trash, but it is literally trash at this point. What can be salvaged certainly will be. Those items will now hold dearer memories and more memories.

But it is important to conserve water to reduce the demand from already-overloaded treatment and waste facilities.

On Sunday, Phillip and I heard that United Way of Acadiana needed help transporting food to shelters and those in need, so we took his truck, got loaded down with MREs, and brought them where they needed to go. This week I helped clean up my future in-laws' yard and garage. It was not even close to the amount of effort so many others have put in. No matter how much or little you can do, it makes a difference to someone. It's dirty, it smells like crap, and it's not glamorous, but somehow the work must get done.

It's not about the statistics, although they're scary. More than 30,000 evacuated residents across the state. But behind that number are 30,000 people with unique stories. Beneath the sweeping aerial photos are each family's backyards. Even if you only make a difference to one or two of those people, it changes their world for the better.

It's not about whether national news covers the tragedy. We're here whether they talk about it or not. And our local news sources have done a phenomenal job keeping everyone updated.

It's been incredible to see people giving back during this time, through volunteering and donating. Our local nonprofits have been receiving the items they need, thanks in large part of spreading the word on social media. It's important to see what these groups need before showing up with a donation, so the process goes as smoothly as possible all the way down the chain.

Clothing is not needed right now. But toiletries and cleaning supplies are. Check where to bring them first.

If you read this before Thursday evening, KLFY is teaming up with United Way of Acadiana on Thursday, August 18, for Flood the Love. KLFY's website has a list of what UWA needs, and you can drop it off at the UWA location on Pinhook near the Thruway between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. Let's truly flood Louisiana with love.

The sunny days are coming, y'all. We'll get there.

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