I want to preface this by saying that I was not directly affected by the flood. Many people in Southern Louisiana were drastically affected by the flood, but I was one of the lucky few that was not. For this reason, I don’t think my opinion is the most important one when it comes to this topic. However, the flood still indirectly affected my family.
I remember waking up on the day of the flood, before the actual flooding began. The rain was coming down in torrents, and I loved it. Stormy weather is one of my favorite types of weather, so I was excited. I remember I woke up because lightning struck very loudly nearby, causing my dad to spill his cup of coffee and yell almost as loudly as the lightning. The local news channel was telling us that school was closed until further notice, but I didn’t think anything was wrong. It wasn’t until around 1 PM that I realized something was off.
Around 7 that night, everyone in the neighborhood walked outside to see how high the water rose. The school in front of the neighborhood was completely flooded, and the first street of the neighborhood looked like a river. The sun was just starting to set at the time, so the entire sky took on a strange magenta color. The whole situation felt eerie, like I was visiting a whole new neighborhood. The weird lighting, the hoards of people walking in the street, and the river rushing by the houses made everything feel distinctly unsettling. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve assumed it was a dream. My dad and I were the ones that decided to walk out there, since my mom was too tired to walk. We saw people we didn’t recognize, and we empathized with strangers. About an hour later everyone went back inside their houses; except for me and my dad. That was when he had the admittedly terrible idea to walk through the river on the first street. We went to our backyard, grabbed some boots, and marched out to the front street. We got as far as the 4th house from the entrance before we had to turn back. At that point, the boots were completely useless since the water came up above my knees, stopping at about my mid-thigh. I could only walk out as far as the mailboxes because the water in the center of the street appeared to be strong enough to knock a grown man off his feet. On our way back, we saw some teenagers running through the water or skating up and down the empty streets. It was a strange experience, to say the least.
The water came up to our backyard, but, luckily, it never reached our house. However, that doesn’t mean we were free from consequence. Prices on food and gas slightly rose up. To a two-income, middle class family, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, my family is a one-income family with a disabled parent that barely clings to the “middle class” label. We never had the money to shop for luxuries; almost all of our money was spent on groceries, fuel, and rent. The slight increase in prices meant more planning and sacrifice for us. Of course, this sacrifice was nothing compared to those who lost their homes and all of their possessions, but I still feel the need to talk about it. I apologize if it comes off as entitled. On top of that, our landlord increased the price of our rent. For months after that, we had tried moving out and finding a less expensive house. “Tried” is the key word in that sentence; there weren’t any non-flooded houses whose rent was less than what we were currently paying.
This has gone on for the past year. Borrowing money from co-workers and family members is a common practice, as is temporarily pawning my dad’s work equipment. My family is constantly a few weeks away from being evicted, and I don’t know how much longer we can keep it up. While the flood didn’t take everything from us last year, it seems as if it’s dead set on doing so over time.
My heart goes out to those who did lose everything in last year’s flood, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma.