by Bob Anderson
Florida Parishes bureau
September 04, 2012
KILLIAN — Water began to recede across southern Livingston Parish on Saturday while officials delivered supplies to hundreds of flood-stranded hurricane victims and helped others get to dry land.
Sheriff’s deputies aided by National Guard trucks said they rescued more than 100 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, and fire departments reported answering numerous other emergency calls.
Fire officials in Walker rescued about a dozen people who didn’t realize the water was going to come up so quickly, said Robert Dugas, chairman of Fire Protection District 4.
“I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never seen water in places I’ve seen it in this time,” Dugas said.
In the southeastern part of the parish, fire and rescue personnel aided in a “swift-water rescue” of three teenaged girls dumped into the Natalbany River after their boat overturned, District 2 Fire Chief Brian Drury said.
The officials also got a stranded woman who had gone into labor to a hospital in time to deliver her baby, Drury said.
Saturday, a weary Drury’s duties turned more mundane as he sloshed through water and downed trees carrying food and water.
Livingston Parish Department of Public Works employees delivered meals-ready-to-eat and bottled water to areas like Killian and Maurepas that are surrounded by water.
Residents of those temporary islands gathered quickly to receive the provisions.
Private individuals in trucks and boats also helped supply or evacuate stranded people.
Jimmy Lewis dove into deep water along La. 22 to save a drowning fawn, which he turned over to authorities.
Lewis and his family had difficulties of their own. A tree fell across his mobile home in Maurepas, he said.
In Killian, his mother, Dianne Vampran, saw her home flood.
She said she has lived in the area for 64 years and has never seen water get as high as it did from this storm.
Vampran said she has homeowners insurance but won’t be able to collect on her flooded home because she never has needed flood insurance.
Melissa Ledford, of Maurrepas, found herself in a similar situation.
She said she has no flood insurance because her home is two feet above the elevation required by local government. Nevertheless, water was “knee deep” in her house Saturday.
People who have lived in the area for years, and never flooded, got water in their homes, she said.
That includes “a lot of elderly people,” she said.
John Huffman, of Killian, said the water in his home was shoulder high.
“I’ve been here 20 years and have never seen it this high,” he said.
Livingston Parish Councilman Ronnie Sharp said he was surprised at how quickly and how high the water rose from Isaac.
The good news Saturday afternoon was that floodwaters were falling, he said.
By late Saturday afternoon, water had dropped more than a foot in the Killian area, officials said.
Though hundreds of people remain cut off in the Killian and Whitehall areas, the number of calls for rescue has begun to fall, Parish President Layton Ricks said.
He said his office has begun preparations for hurricane debris removal and for handling claims by flood victims.
Residents can haul limbs to the edge of roadways for pickup, said Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Early next week, a hotline will be set up to receive calls from people with hurricane damage, Harrell said. That will be followed by the opening of a federal disaster recovery center in the parish, he said.
Some residents have complained they were told by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials that Livingston Parish has not been declared a disaster area, but Harrell said that declaration for the parish has been made.