Rebuilding After Baton Rouge's Great Flood of 2016
The Thousand Year Storm
Extreme weather in the Baton Rouge area has taken its toll on towns like Denham Springs, where 77% of the town’s buildings were devastated by last year’s Great Flood. One year later, the community is still on the path to recovery.
SERVPRO®’s Spirit of Service
This series was inspired by SERVPRO®'s dedication to service—of rolling up their sleeves and embracing their community in the aftermath of the unexpected.
When the rains came, SERVPRO® was just as exposed as everyone else. Flood waters inundated the SERVPRO® Franchises, and owners and employees alike were faced with the daunting task of rebuilding once the waters receded. For every member of the SERVPRO® family, recovery became personal.
While several of the SERVPRO® buildings in Baton Rouge were still pumping water from their warehouses, teams from Franchises as far away as Idaho and Wisconsin showed up at the Louisiana border ready to serve.
In cities across the country, SERVPRO® teams live amongst the same people they dedicate themselves to serving. When large, unexpected disasters strike—whether an isolated kitchen fire or a devastating flood such as the Great Flood of 2016—the SERVPRO® community experiences the same challenges themselves.
There is a determined spirit of service at SERVPRO®, a spirit that inspires us all to serve together.
The Water Was Still Rising
"Walking through thigh-high water gave us the blues and the news was the waters was still rising”-Kenya Harris, poet, resident of Baton Rouge
A seemingly small, unnamed storm swept across Louisiana last summer dumping trillions of gallons of rain on the parishes around Baton Rouge. Within a week, one third of all the homes in the region were devastated by massive, surging floodwaters.
A year after the storm, SERVPRO® traveled to Baton Rouge to see how a community can recover in the aftermath of extreme weather. What we found was a spirit of resilience, support and hope in the face of daunting challenges.
"We were hit with a catastrophic rain event that was unprecedented,” Barry Keim, Louisiana’s State Climatologist, told us.
Louisiana tasks Keim with studying the broader implications of climate on the state.
"With each one of these events, the question is, is this some signal, or are they going to get even worse in the future?” Keim said.
One of the first people we met in the community was Gerard Landry, the mayor of Denham Springs, a suburb east of Baton Rouge where 77% of the town was destroyed by floodwaters.
In the weeks after the storm, Mayor Landry wrote an open letter to his city. When he read the letter to us during our interview, he started to cry. The emotions are still raw for everyone here.
"To the citizens of our great city,” he read. “Rest assured, the city of Denham Springs will recover and we will be stronger than ever before. Together we can do this. We will survive, that I know.”
To The Citizens of Our Great City
In the weeks after the storm, Gerard Landry, the mayor of Denham Springs, wrote an open letter to his city. It has been over a year since the storm, but the emotions are still raw for everyone here.
The Nerve of that Water
When rising flood waters threatened this town, locals took to their boats to rescue thousands of neighbors from their homes — forming what became known as “The Cajun Navy.” A year later, residents are still helping each other rebuild; a timely reminder of the strength of community in the face of crisis.
Jerica Howard and her husband Larry sit on their porch in Baton Rouge. They’ve moved back into their home one year after four feet of water flooded through the house.
During the Great Flood of 2016, as much as 31 inches of rain fell around Baton Rouge.
Cherie Tidwell and her daughter Taylor in front of their house in Ascension Parish. Taylor, a star softball player, hopes to bring her high school team to the state championships this year.
After the storm, neighbors put their boats in the water to rescue stranded members of their community. This loose group of boat owners became known as the Cajun Navy.
Kenya Harris in her home in Baton Rouge. A published poet, Kenya has been inspired by her experience during the flood to write work that helps her community heal.
John Tillman walks through the sanctuary of his church in Denham Springs, Louisiana. John hopes to be able to have service in church again in time for Easter 2018.
Drone footage of the rising flood waters during the Great Flood of 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. An estimated 75% of homes in one parish outside of Baton Rouge were destroyed in the storm.
LET LIFE FLOW
The Great Flood of 2016 devastated many of the towns around Baton Rouge, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of this community. Today neighbors continue to work together to rebuild their homes; and their story offers hope to millions of Americans in the aftermath of recent storms.