NEW ORLEANS — After heavy morning rains, it was nearly 3:30 before Gentilly heard the sounds of gargling storm drains.
The storm backed water into homes, onto porch steps, and stayed for hours.
“The water sat and sat, and sat and sat, for at least five hours,” said Allison Braxton Baehr. “The rain came, wind came, water came. A lot of water came and stayed, and luckily, we made it through."
The Baehr’s home didn’t take on water, but it likely would have if it hadn’t been elevated earlier this year. Their home was one of 50 selected as part of a federal flood mitigation grant, which paid for the elevation in full.
Work wrapped up Tuesday.
"[I’m] Still thinking, 'oh my god. what could have been? Had my house not been elevated,'” said Baehr. “We went with three feet and less than 24 minutes we’ve been sitting here saying, we just signed up on the completion of our grant.”
Other homeowners weren’t as lucky. Four inches of rain poured down on Gentilly, many calling it the worst they’ve seen from a storm – not a tropical system or hurricane – in decades.
Mid-City filled up, too. Water spouted up from drains, and businesses were desperate to keep water out.
The city’s Streetwise map from after the storm shows dozens of flooded roads across those neighborhoods.
The storm took Connie Rodriguez by surprise, too. She heard thunder around 6 a.m. and looked outside to see her street flooding.
“This is just out of the blue. Amazing. I mean, it’s just unbelievable,” she said.
Checking on some stray kittens she had brought inside her garage for protection from Cristobal, she realized the worst. One was floating, and a second litter near her home was in distress as well. She saved as many as she could, even giving one CPR to save its life.
“I just started pumping his little chest and sort of blew a couple of breaths into his little mouth,” said Rodriguez. “And he perked up and started screeching. I managed to get him into the house, so I’ve managed to save basically four out of eight kittens.”
Across the city, as cleanup begins and roadways resurface from under inches of water, families are hoping this isn’t the start to a long summer.
“I feel like this is mother nature’s way of saying, wake up New Orleans. Hurricane season is here,” said Baehr.
Another round of home elevation grants is coming soon.
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