Louisiana flooding affects Loyola professors

Floods+rise+against+Michele+and+Kristopher+Ellis%27+cars+in+their+garage+and+along+their+street+in+Baton+Rouge%2C+La.
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Louisiana flooding affects Loyola professors

Floods rise against Michele and Kristopher Ellis' cars in their garage and along their street in Baton Rouge, La.

Floods rise against Michele and Kristopher Ellis' cars in their garage and along their street in Baton Rouge, La.

Floods rise against Michele and Kristopher Ellis' cars in their garage and along their street in Baton Rouge, La.

Floods rise against Michele and Kristopher Ellis' cars in their garage and along their street in Baton Rouge, La.

Haley Pegg

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Michele Ellis, nursing professor, awoke Sunday morning to the sound of helicopters and an airboat rescuing neighbors on her flooded street in Baton Rouge.

Ellis has been a nursing professor for 12 years, and will be starting her first semester teaching at Loyola this fall. The home she shares with her husband was covered in about eight inches of water in the floods. The subdivision in which Ellis lives had never flooded before.

“People are holding up. There’s nothing more you can do,” Ellis said.

In some of the most devastating flooding in Louisiana history, some civilians have lost everything. The floods killed at least 13 people and damaged at least 40,000 homes. Within 48 hours, up to two feet of rain had covered areas of southern Louisiana. 106,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid at this point.

Warren Hebert, nursing professor, said he is also dealing with the aftermath of the flood. Hebert is also a new professor at Loyola, living in Lafayette. He hosts a radio program called Family Caregiving, focusing on the needs of people who care for family members with disabilities, illnesses, injury and elderly parents. He dedicated a show last week to the topic of flood preparedness in the aftermath of his situation.

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Hebert said his home was not badly damaged in the flood, but may still require maintenance. Driving home from New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, he said he found himself trapped between two bodies of water on a rural highway. He planned to sleep in his vehicle, but was rescued by first responders in a National Guard truck. He left his vehicle on the highway, spent the night at a friend’s house and got home the next morning.

“The first thing for recovery is trying to collect your thoughts and yourself. Some are better at that than others,” Hebert said.

The Red Cross has launched a massive relief operation in Louisiana, estimated to cost at least $30 million. Patrick Pannett, a Red Cross spokesperson, said aid from outside sources is crucial for mending the disaster. According to Pannett, Red Cross has sheltered between seven and 11 thousand people each night at 36 shelters since the flooding began. This number has been declining. Pannett said a main reason the floods have caused so much damage is because the water is unusually dynamic. As the water recedes, it moves to other areas. Pannett said this is why homes have continued to flood even after the rain lightened up. According to him, people are unaware of the extent of the flood’s damage because there is not enough attention from the national media.

“The single most important job we can do is to bring the resources to the table and bring national attention to the area. We’re going to continue to tell the story and make sure the rest of the country knows,” Pannett said in a phone interview from Washington.

Ellis said that regardless of the situation, she tries to remain positive. Friends and volunteers have been generous in helping her and her husband. She said in the midst of a situation where some have died and some have become homeless, she is grateful for what she has.

“Sometimes you feel the hand of God really close to you. I’m feeling that love now because everything we need has been provided in some shape or form… I feel like we’re so blessed,” Ellis said.

Anyone can donate to the flood relief effort by visiting RedCross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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