And so began the worst rain on August 12, 2016, though some had begun falling on August 8th.
Tangipahoa Parish was one of the first areas threatened. In just hours, the threat of flooding had became a nightmare in reality. By August 13th, Baton Rouge, our capital, and the surrounding area, were being pummeled by torrential rains. Sunday, August 14th, found Denham Springs and the part of Baton Rouge near the Amite River underwater.
6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rain fell in one week. In other words, 6.9 TRILLION gallons of rain fell on Louisiana between August 8 and the 14th. Meteorologists calculated that it was enough rain to fill 10.4 MILLION Olympic size swimming pools. I would say it was close to modern day biblical proportions. Unlike a hurricane, people did NOT have time to prepare or evacuate.
NOTE: During Hurricane Katrina evacuations, people were not allowed to take their animals .
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the third-strongest hurricane in the history of the United States, made landfall, decimating New Orleans. About 1,836 people, more than half of them senior citizens, died in the tragedy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called it “the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.”
Half of whom had pets and took them to their rooftops to escape the rising waters. Many of them sat with their dogs and cats, waiting for help to arrive. Help DID come, but not for the animals. The rescuers mostly refused to take animals on board, making it clear that the pets must be left behind. In some instances, the owners refused to leave their companion animals and perished alongside them. In total, 250,000 pets were left behind and 150,000 died during the hurricane or in its aftermath. (Credit Al Berman)
I am one who is not often enamored by Louisiana politics, but I am very proud that a new law has been enacted to protect animals in natural disasters. It is my understanding that we are the first state to implement this type of legislation. Clearly the government had underestimated the strength of the bond between people and their animals. The public outrage that followed Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst which led to a wonderful piece of bipartisan legislation called:
Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006
The law demands that state and local governments factor pets into emergency evacuation plans, and authorize the use of funds for rescue workers to “procure, construct, or renovate emergency shelter facilities and materials that will temporarily accommodate people with pets and service animals.”
The waters rose so quickly that many of the evacuation routes, used in hurricanes, were already flooded out.
Livingston Parish was the hardest hit, when 31.39 inches of water fell in 15 hours. In that same 15 hours, 19 inches fell in the Baton Rouge/ Denham Springs area. And that’s where our story begins.
(Denham Springs Shelter photos)
I am the coordinator/contact under Bull Terrier Club of America, for English Bull Terrier rescue in Louisiana. Throughout the state, I am happy to say that I have a number of contacts who have helped me on many occasions, for many years, to secure, pull or foster these precious creatures until I can pick them up or arrange transport. One is a special woman named, Gisele, who lives about 67 miles south of Denham Springs. Gisele works tirelessly as a volunteer for rescue. Last Wednesday she told me just how devastating the floods truly were- first hand experience. In Denham Springs, the shelter did in fact, go under. Total flooding. Many dogs were released from their kennels so that they could swim out and on to the roof of the shelter in order to survive, but many were saved by the actions of quick thinking staff and volunteers. The majority of the animals survived because they received assistance from residents who had not evacuated.
I asked Gisele what she needed and she said “supplies”. I said, “Gisele, don’t worry, I’ll get you a truck of supplies and get it to you.” Upon hanging up, I burst into tears and my husband, Gordon, said “I’m in”, but was curious as to how I planned to pull off this promise. Truthfully, I knew that my animal friends would contribute some things- I KNEW we could fill up a pick up truck.
However, I was POSITIVE that Mr. Kippers’ legion of followers would step up and step up they did.
Now I shall turn over the writing of the “TAILS” to the master himself, Mr Kippers, who will tell his “tails” of the last few weeks. The “Tails” of how a city came together, and how that camaraderie led to friends across the nation stepping up too.
For me, I’m particularly grateful, but for Mr Kippers, well, he has lived to see his dream to “pay forward his good fortune” come to fruition in a way that far surpassed our expectations when he began, Classic Kippers, just three short years ago. This little bully, found abandoned and abused in the middle of a freeway in South Louisiana, has been able to keep his promise to help those who, like himself, found themselves in unbelievable circumstances. In the days to come, in Mr. Kippers own words, you will read about the kindnesses which have taken place in Shreveport and across the country concerning his Kippers’ Express Flood Relief Drive. I am certain that they will touch you soul and stir you heart…