The Louisiana flooding has hit Jo Lee Misner’s family hard: Her mother’s house, Uncle Donald’s old shop and Uncle Gary’s place, they’re all underwater.
Misner has 36 relatives on her mom’s side who have lost their houses — that’s 13 homes — in the small community of Colyell in Livingston Parish. Many of them live on the same street where she grew up.
Her husband has four relatives who have lost homes in nearby Baker, Baton Rouge and Denham Springs.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening to our families and others in our local communities,” Misner said.
“Our first reaction was to help our families prepare for the worst,” she said. “When the floodwaters kept rising, we then used boats to transport anything we could to save what was left.”
It’s common to find generations of a family who live close together in this part of Louisiana. The sense of family is paramount, especially when something so life-changing happens.
The Misners are just one of the many families trying to cope with the disaster.
They’ve been helping relatives save what they can, from moving family members to safe places, carting outdoor equipment to their property and placing belongings up on blocks inside the affected homes, she said.
About a year ago, the couple moved to neighboring French Settlement, a blessing since their home sits on higher ground.
While Misner’s home is still safe, it is surrounded by water.
“My mom is staying with us and neighbors here are starting to prepare for us to be flooded in,” the 31-year-old told CNN. “We have a few people from surrounding areas getting food and supplies for us.”
The Misners started to see water creeping into the streets around their home Tuesday. It rose a foot and now they’re flooded in, she said Wednesday morning.
“I bought enough food to last for a week in case we were flooded in, but I wasn’t prepared for this much devastation. Local stores are running low on everything from food to fuel.”
At first, Misner said, she felt helpless. She felt like she couldn’t do enough to help her family.
“It’s unbelievable what we’ve been through,” she said. “We never imaged this would happen in the first place.”
Simultaneously feeling blessed and guilty, she’s doing what she can for those who have lost so much.
“People were told they don’t need flood insurance and now they’re without a home,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out where our family is going to stay. We only have seven homes in the family that don’t have damage.”