I knew it was raining in Baton Rouge. I heard something about flooding, but I figured the media was just looking for a fresh story. It rains all the time in Louisiana.
Then, the niggling bits of news about rain, and water, and flooding, and deaths assembled.
"Four feet of water in the house."
I saw a picture from Prairieville. A guy was paddling his pirogue down the street. I texted my buddy in Baton Rouge, Frank, to see how he was faring. Bayou Manchac, made famous during the American Revolution, meanders behind his house. The creek has been known to get out of its banks.
Frank's reply was vintage Frank. "Four feet of water in the house, eight feet in Lesleigh's (daughter). Gutting the house Friday. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won't back down."
That last line: It's the title line from a song by Tom Petty: "I Won't Back Down." Personally, I prefer the way Johnny Cash sings the song. His version anchors my favorite play list.
You don't have to know the song to hear its determination.
Taking a picture of a flood is like taking a picture of a mountain.
South Louisiana is fascinating. The whole place is alive. There is water everywhere all of the time. The swamps and marshes and gulf, of course, but the ditches and low places too, and the air as well; it is thick enough to engulf you. But after twenty to thirty inches of rain in as many hours, there is more water than all of the canals, bayous, estuaries, and tributaries connected to the sea can manage or the levy's guide.
You've seen the pictures. But taking a picture of a flood is like taking a picture of a mountain or the ocean. There's simply too much to convey on a screen.
People in the midst don't talk much. They are working, putting one foot in front of another to accomplish as much as they are able. In this flood, all that can be saved has been rescued. Now the labor is to reclaim as much civilization as can be seized before nature reclaims through mold and decay what was once hers.
Frank is Pastor of Grace Life Fellowship. There are sixteen families displaced in his church and thousands of others in the area who have lost everything. The church is dry, but inaccessible. You can read the posts at the Grace Life Facebook page to get a sense of the church in action.
Click HERE to participate
From hurricane Katrina to other crises, Grace Life Fellowship has a long history of engaging in the community. They know you want to help and will steward your investment wisely. Click HERE to participate. After you fill out the initial screen, you will have the opportunity to designate your gift to "flood relief." Of course, your gifts are tax deductible and 100% dedicated to flood relief.
Apparently, washing clothes immersed in flood water is not as simple as throwing them in the washing machine. Last I saw, there were tips on the Grace Life sites for how to get the job done right. These are resourceful, determined folks, and many are my friends. Thanks for helping.