Amid The Floods, A Dispatch From Baton Rouge
FARAI CHIDEYA, HOST:
It's been a week since the record flooding in Baton Rouge started, and the recovery is underway. Thirteen people have died in the floods, and 40,000 homes have been damaged. For some families, this disaster is the second time around. Eleven years ago, Trinice Rose lost her home in New Orleans to the floods that followed Hurricane Katrina. And now floods have devastated her home yet again. Earlier today, she spoke to us from outside her house in Baton Rouge, and she started by describing the floods.
TRINICE ROSE: The water still hadn't come up our lawn. So I was like, well, I'm going to cook some stuff in case the lights go out and we don't have food available. So I go outside and look again. My husband dozed off, so I woke him up. I said, John (ph), the neighbors are leaving, and the neighbors across the street from us were leaving because they were still in the house.
When they got into the water, the water was at their waist, and I was like, oh, my God. I said, John, we got to go. And he said we're not going to be able to drive the vehicles because the water's too deep, so we packed one bag. The older kids held the babies on their back. I have a 6 and a 7 year old. We walked through the water thinking the water's not going to come up to the house because we never flood. But lo and behold, when my husband came Monday to check the house and the water was still at his side, we had a little over 5 feet of water in the house.
CHIDEYA: I understand that you have been cleaning the house today. Have you been able to save very much? Do you have...
ROSE: I saved maybe 20 percent of my kids' clothes, maybe 5 percent of my husband and I. All the furniture is gone. I have a grandbaby that's coming in September. We have baby beds. All this stuff here - that's gone. I was able to save very few (unintelligible).
CHIDEYA: I'm sorry.
ROSE: Yes. Actually, the stuff I was able to save during Katrina because we knew Katrina was coming, so we packed up pictures and stuff. Those days, I was able to save. This time I lost. But yeah, even though we went through Katrina and we lost everything in Katrina, we were still able to gain a lot of memories in this house - 11 years. We had two kids born while we were living in this house. This house housed six families afterwards because when we initially vacated from Katrina, it was six families that rented one house. And then we moved to this house which approximately 15 people stayed with us until they got back up on their feet.
CHIDEYA: So you really were part of a community of people who had survived this tragedy 11 years ago, and that's part of what this house means to you.
ROSE: Yes. It was like a safe haven after losing everything. And then now it's destroyed again. You know, my life is destroyed again. Just tearing out the walls hurts me.
CHIDEYA: You know, how are other people in your community coping with this?
ROSE: Everybody in this community - we're working together. I mean, we pulling out the house, you know, sheet rock. Furniture is lined up. It looks like a disaster zone riding through here, but we're helping each other.
CHIDEYA: Did you have flood insurance?
ROSE: No flood insurance, so it's definitely going to be a slow, long ride.
CHIDEYA: But you do intend to rebuild?
ROSE: Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm not going anywhere. I love this community. I love being here. I'm not going to relocate. We're going to rebuild. It's going to take stepping stones to do this. What we're going to do is we're going to do it as a family. You know, my nephew's helping. My son is helping. My 6 and 7 year old were out here helping. They're not here today. A wonderful, wonderful, wonderful co-worker of mine has them with them today, so they can get away and be kids because they haven't been able to be kids for the last couple of days. But, no, I'm not relocating.
CHIDEYA: Well, Trinice, I can't thank you enough for talking to us, especially at a time that's this painful and this stressful. And I really hope that you get the help and relief that you need.
ROSE: I hope I do, too.
CHIDEYA: That was Trinice Rose. She's a Hurricane Katrina survivor who is starting the process of rebuilding her home and life for a second time after the flooding in Baton Rouge. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.