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The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

    Students stay positive amidst flooding

    Helicopter view of flooded area

    In this aerial photo over Hammond, La., above left, flooded homes are seen off of LA-1064 after heavy rains inundated the region, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. 
    Associated Press/ Max Becherer 

    With the recent flooding in Louisiana, many people lost their homes, cars, pictures and personal possessions. There were numerous people who were not able to get out of their homes quickly due to how fast waters rose in some areas. In cities such as Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, rising waters completely destroyed some homes.

    Student Government Association member and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity treasurer Austin Rogers lives in Denham Springs, a town a little over 15 miles outside of Baton Rouge. During the flood, Rogers was in Hammond and could only see his house via pictures.

    I never thought that my home would flood,” said Rogers, a junior business and marketing major. “We’ve never had water collect anywhere near our home during any major storms. I was able to see pictures of my home thanks to friends on Facebook. I was devastated to see not only my home, but my city under so much water.”  

    In Holden, a town near Hammond, water was rising as well. Unlike Rogers, SGA Vice President and Alpha Omicron Pi sorority member Gabrielle Reynolds was in her home when the waters started to rise.

    “The flood caused us to lose my home, my dad’s workshop, my mom’s beauty shop, our sheds, pool and any form of shelter we could have used during this disaster,” said Reynolds, a junior kinesiology exercise science major. “We had to sleep in our vehicles for 3-4 nights since there was nowhere to go since all roads were blocked off and nobody had cell service.”

    As the water rose, Reynolds began packing sentimental keepsakes.

    “I was devastated when I saw the water coming into my home,” said Reynolds. “I started crying and running around my house grabbing things that I could not live without. My parents told me to start packing up my room and to put everything that I wanted to save on my bed or at the top of my closet an hour before the water started coming into my house. This did not give us much time to prepare.”

    It was a race against time with the rising waters for Reynolds and her family. The hardest part was making the decision of what to try and save.

    “We started packing boxes, unplugging electronics and trying to move furniture on my dad’s tractor (since the water was too high for a vehicle) to safe land,” said Reynolds. “But, the water was rising so fast it was hard to decide what was the most valuable things in my life that I wanted to save. We left on a tractor carrying my puppy and each family member carrying a backpack of a few things.”

    After water receded, clean up began. Finally being able to get back to his home, Rogers began the cleanup process. As he was cleaning his emotions took over.

    “I felt numb,” said Rogers. “I guess everything didn’t hit me until a few hours of cleaning. Then all of my emotions came at once. I was lucky enough to not have to be in Denham Springs during the flooding, so I didn’t fully understand what everyone had gone through until I saw it first-hand.”

    Rogers lost many memories he had left at home while in college.

    “I lost almost all of my possessions that weren’t in my fraternity house,” said Rogers. “All of my high school memories, graduation cap, yearbooks and anything else you could think of were ruined. I was only able to save my fraternity bid card, record player and random awards that were hanging on my wall.”

    Reynolds was also able to salvage some of her belongings, but that involved swimming into her home to retrieve them.

    “I was able to salvage some items of clothing, my sorority badge, important jewelry, my laptop, a few pictures and my ID’s and birth certificate when I went back during the flood in my dad’s boat,” said Reynolds. “I had to swim in my house because the water was so high, but I’m thankful to have saved those items.”

    After taking in what happened, Reynolds did not know what to do.

    “I felt helpless and upset after seeing the damage,” said Reynolds. “I could not help my parents or the rest of my family because I lost just as much as they did. Everything they worked hard for their entire life was gone in a matter of hours.”

    Another SGA student was not directly affected, but his family home was ruined. Neil Bourgeois, a Leadership Intern for the Office of Student Engagement, was in Hammond while his family was dealing with the rising waters and has not been able to return yet. Bourgeois is from Sorrento which is 30 miles outside of Baton Rouge.

    “I have sadly not been to my home yet,” said Bourgeois who is also a member Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. “I have an apartment in Hammond, and with it being close to school and me working on campus, I was in Hammond when the flooding happened. It hurts because I have to watch my family go through this, and I couldn’t be with them. All I could do was watch them show my home town and parish on the news under water. It shook me to the core seeing my home parish go through so much hurt and damage.”

    These three students went through different scenarios but the same tragedy. While going through this, they have not put their on campus jobs on hold.

    “I debated not coming back to campus because I could not stand the thought of me being in class while my parents did their best without my help to try and rebuild our home and life,” said Reynolds. “However, they told me it is not my job to put everything back together.”

    Rogers was able to transition back into his campus job thanks to the support of his peers.

    “I’ve been so involved on Southeastern’s campus,” said Rogers. “The students and faculty have supported me so much and they have become a second family. Knowing that I would have a strong support system that welcomed me with open arms has helped me come back so quickly.”

    Bourgeois may not have been home during this tragic event but shares that he would have come back no matter what he lost.

    “Thankfully my family and house are okay so I have the privilege to come back,” said Bourgeois. “Even if we lost everything I would have come back. I have dreams and aspirations and I can’t afford to let anything stop them. Also having my Southeastern family behind me makes it easy to come back. I am blessed with two amazing families, my family back at home and my family on this amazing campus.”

    While this experience has not been easy, Rogers tries to remain positive and help others and campus.

    “Helping others has helped me kind of push back my own problems,” said Rogers. “While my home still had water in it, I assisted with the Division of Student Affairs Leadership Ambassadors while we worked Move In Mane-ia and other events. I had it pretty bad, but my family was safe and that’s what matters. Everything I lost was just stuff. Stuff can be replaced.” 

    In the midst of the flooding, Bourgeois pulled strength from the people that mean the most to him.

    “I drew my strength from my Ascension Parish family,” said Bourgeois. “We are strong and we will rebuild even stronger. That is what I love about my community. We are united and will not let this bring us down. We lean on each other for strength and support because that’s what us Cajuns do.”

    There were numerous people who lost almost everything in this flood. Reynolds is among those who lost almost everything but relies on positivity to get her and others through this devastating flood.

    “Take everything a day at a time and to rely on your support system,” said Reynolds. “This is an emotional journey and it will not be easy. This is still not easy for me, but we should rely on our faith that God will get us through this and it will make us stronger. We have to come together as a community by volunteering to help others and believe that Louisiana will come back from this flood.” 

    There is a saying that states “everything happens for a reason,” and Reynolds is a firm believer of that.

    “I have learned recently that everything happened for a reason,” said Reynolds. “I believe that God had a reason for this to happen to my family and so many other families. I may never understand that reason but I have to walk on faith. Plus, all my family members are alive and well. Material things can be replaced, but family cannot.”

    Volunteers help with flood relief

    Volunteers help fill sand bags at the Lake Arthur Community Center Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, in Lafayette, La. , above right. Louisiana’s governor says at least 40,000 homes have been impacted by the historic floods in the southern part of the state. 
    The Daily Advertiser/ Scott Clause





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