Louisiana Family Works to Recover From Devastating Flooding | NBC Chicago
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Louisiana Family Works to Recover From Devastating Flooding

On Saturday at dinner time, Red Cross trucks drove through the streets announcing hot meals

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sara Smith
    Warren and Debra Guedry, Ryan and Erin Cleveland

    Debra Guedry has lived in her Denham Springs, Louisiana, home for 10 years. She didn't want to leave when the flood waters came knocking on her door.

    "We watched it," she said. "The water was pouring into the neighborhood. You could just see it. But my daughter said, if we don't leave now, we won't get out at all." 

    The flooding devastated a swath of Louisiana near Baton Rouge, blamed for 13 deaths and displacing thousands, like Guedry and her husband.

    Along with their daughter, they rushed around to place furniture up onto risers or chairs in hopes of saving it before a neighbor took them to safety in his boat.

    Guedry had promised her elderly neighbors she wouldn't leave without them, and convinced the neighbor with the boat to rescue the older couple as well.

    The six of them floated down the street of their immaculate 40-home community out over the 6-foot high wrought iron entrance gate and down the road until the boat couldn't go any further. 

    Photo credit: Sara Smith

    When the family and their neighbors had to abandon the boat, Guedry, who stands a slight 5-foot-4 at best, said the water was up to her chest and she was worried about her elderly neighbors.

    "All I could think was, the water was going so fast," she said. "How are we going to keep them standing?"

    They interlocked arms and waded out.

    "We're fortunate we all survived it," Guedry said as she stood on the back porch of her home, where the family has collected the items they think can be salvaged, including a gorgeous wooden king-sized bed frame, a wardrobe and a coffee table.

    Guedry's newly married daughter Erin Cleveland said they were trapped because the interstates and roads leading to her home and any other relatives' homes were all blocked. The family, along with Cleveland's husband Ryan, camped out at Cleveland's photography studio on air mattresses for three days until they could get out.

    On Saturday at dinner time, Red Cross trucks drove through the streets announcing hot meals. It's one of the many organizations providing help following the devastating flooding. Guedry had a bucket with a Red Cross on it, saying it was topped off to help them clean up. She's thankful for any help that comes by as the four of them work tirelessly to get the home ready for repairs.

    "It's been a whirlwind of emotions," Cleveland said, holding two hot meals she just took from the truck. "It just came out of nowhere."

    Cleveland said they really had no warning that the water would reach them the way it did.

    Cleveland's home stayed dry and that's where the Guedrys are sleeping, on their daughter's sofa and chair until they find a more permanent solution.

    While the family said they're working night and day, it could be a year before they're back in their home, and they know it will be a house without furniture.

    Their flood insurance will only cover the structure, not the contents, which are piled over six feet high along the curb.

    It's a story told over and over along the streets of so many towns in Louisiana reeling from a deadly and devastating flood.