It is hard to find the words to describe what parts of south Louisiana are contending with right now. The flooding is Katrina-like. Livingston Parish, on the eastern border of Baton Rouge, is cut off. Hundreds and hundreds of houses are underwater. Cars and caskets are floating down city streets there. Places that have never flooded are underwater. My mom is hosting my cousin and her family, who got out of Livingston just ahead of the water, and into West Feliciana before Highway 61 was closed again when the water overtook the bridge.
Which has never happened.
If you heard Debbie Elliott’s beautiful NPR story about The Little Way of Ruthie Leming a few years back, or if you read the book, you will remember Ronnie Morgan, our lifelong family friend and neighbor. He’s a good ol’ boy in the very best sense of the word. He would give you the shirt off his back and wouldn’t care. He’s the most easygoing man in West Feliciana, and that’s saying something. Listen to the NPR story to get a sense of who he is. You’ll hear him interviewed at a crawfish boil we had at his camp near Thompson Creek. This camp has for a long time been Starhill’s clubhouse.
It has never flooded, until today. By early afternoon, the water was at the roofline. Everything inside the camp is a total loss. Mr. Ronnie had no insurance. It’s gone.
He came by to tell my mother about his loss. He said, “I ain’t worried. I’m gonna go back to my kitchen and can some more peppers.”
That right there is the spirit of Louisiana. May there always be a Mr. Ronnie.
This below is also the spirit of Louisiana. It is a Facebook post tonight by Thomas Achord, a young man who heads the rhetoric school at Sequitur Classical Academy, the classical Christian school where my kids go and my wife teaches. Thomas Achord teaches Greek there too, among other things. He lives in Livingston Parish, and spent today evacuating his folks and filling sandbags. He posted this tonight:
Louisiana is most beautiful when it is a great disaster. The entire society spontaneously comes together as if joined by familial ties. No one watches his neighbor suffer but all selflessly and voluntarily go about seeking whom they can help. And they do so with their own personal means – trucks, boats, rafts, chainsaws, shovels, food, and often at risk of their lives. We work hard and we eat grand, we are filthy but laughing, we lose our homes yet are welcomed into others. I have seen finer lands but not people. Keep the world and give me Louisiana, even in disaster.
He’s right. Y’all pray for us, and help us if you can. You can be sure we would do it for you. And we would be all Ronnie Morgan about it. Everybody is calling the bateaus and bass boats people are using to rescue their neighbors “Cajun Uber”.
Hey, please excuse the very light posting here. My laptop is suddenly in a coma and I won’t be able to get anybody to look at it till Monday at earliest — if anything is open. I posted this using my old iPad mini. It took 45 minutes with all the coding, despite it being minor, and I’m not even going to attempt posting a photo. We aren’t going to risk the drive to Starhill tomorrow for church. The way things are rapidly changing here, we might be able to get up there using the back way, but may not be able to get home to Baton Rouge. It’s that bad.