One year later: Residents, first responders remember March flood

Ashley Rodrigue talks about how the Northshore is recovering a year after all three parishes flooded.

NORTHSHORE -  One year ago high river levels coupled with strong winds and torrential rain sent all three Northshore parishes into emergency mode.

The early morning hours of March 11, 2016, started with calls for help from several apartment complexes on the east side of Hammond that were flooding from the Yellow Water River.

As the day went on, the Bogue Chitto and Tchefuncte Rivers, both running through Washington and St. Tammany parishes, turned into rapids.

Numerous roads were washed away, all repaired now, and numerous families, like George Stevens', were being plucked from between six and 9-feet of flood water.

"We're back in it," Stevens said, referring to their home, "We're kind of slowly getting back to where we was at, but it takes time."

A year later, his home is one of almost 100 the parish is working with FEMA to raise.  A handful in Franklinton, Angie and Varnado are already underway.

In Covington, the Adkins, both in their 90s, recalled having to be rescued from their home in the Covington Point subdivision.  Their rescue was one of about 50 that took place in a handful of neighborhoods the night of March 11, 2016, as the Bogue Falaya flowed out of its banks, also invading downtown Covington.

"We had some wonderful friends that kept us for about 25 days," said Adkins.

While the Adkins returned to their home rather quickly, several neighbors say the struggle to make repairs continues.  And residents weren't the only ones who learned a lesson or two from the flood.

"We are definitely more ready now than we were last March," said St. Tammany Fire District #5 Volunteer Firefighter Barrett Pittman, "A lot of things have changed for the operation as far as equipment the department has purchased and our training for our personnel here. And not only through here, but throughout the parish as well."

Fire District #5 in Folsom has already been able to put that progress into practice.  Their new 16-foot rescue boat was used during the August 2016 floods and crew members continue to learn from the swift water rescue and rescue boat operator training courses.

It's an experience none of the March flood victims wants to relive, but one they say they're better prepared for, just in case.

Bogalusa leaders say they have a few washouts that still need permanent repairs and a project to replace a washed out section of West 15th Street in Covington has just been bid out for work.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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