Home Lifestyle Look for the Helpers: An Incredible tale of Animal Rescue during Louisiana Floods

Look for the Helpers: An Incredible tale of Animal Rescue during Louisiana Floods

Look for the Helpers: An Incredible tale of Animal Rescue during Louisiana Floods
An aerial view taken from an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter shows severe flooding in a residential area of Baton Rouge, LA on Aug. 15, 2016. Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baton_Rouge_Flood_August_2016_20160815-OC-DOD-0010.jpg">Melissa Leake / United States Coast Guard</a>

Zachary Louisiana, a city in East Baton Rouge parish of Louisiana, was only one of many places devastated by a torrential downpour that caused widespread flooding across Baton Rouge. The historic flooding damaged at least 60,000 homes across 20,000 parishes. The Red Cross stating on their website that “The flooding in Louisiana is likely the worst natural disaster in the United States since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.” Many people lost their homes to flood damage.

So what happens when you dedicate your life to animals and an unforeseen natural disaster happens? For Johnny Myers and Christina Normand, leaving their furry friends behind was just not an option despite being turned down for evacuation. They were told homeland security would contact them for rescue. They never received that call. As the waters rose on them and their foster animals, time was of the essence.

Finally a good friend of theirs contacted someone with a boat who responded to their need for help. But their harrowing tale of animal rescue was far from over. They had a difficult time loading fifteen cats, three dogs, and a rabbit into rescue boats. They eventually had to work out a way for cats to share the crates, one large crate even holding nine cats. They kept the dogs on leashes. It was difficult placing the crates on the boat so that they would fit correctly.

Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell
Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell

Once they were finally settled on to the rescue boat, they were taken to a nearby storm shelter that allowed pets, only to be turned away. They traveled to another storm shelter only to be turned away again, this time because they did not allow pets. 19 animals all packed up and they had no place to go.

After hearing about Johnny and Christina’s plight, Zachary resident Paige Colwell, stepped up to help the traveling foster family in their time of need. After making a few calls, they were able to transfer the tiny menagerie to Paige’s home, one of the last non-flooded havens in all of Zachary.

Normand and Myers shared Paige’s ten by ten art studio outbuilding with all 19 animals. Despite the cramped conditions, the couple was quite relieved that their fur family all made it with them.

“One of the dogs is on a Prescription Diet” Normand starts. “As are many of the cats” sharing her concerns about her fosters. Thanks to the generosity of many people, they had enough food to last them several days.

They are still in need of other pet supplies. If you’re interested in helping them continue their foster shelter or rebuild their lives, please visit the GoFundMe

Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell
Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell

Paige, her family and friends have been searching for people and defenseless pets who couldn’t escape the flood. They’re just one of many groups out serving their neighbors in their time of need. They leave during the day to seek out anyone, human or pet, who may be stranded from the floods. Their group is one of one of many rescue groups searching to help others in their community.

“Just a few weeks ago our city was divided because of the Alton Sterling shooting” Paige said. ” And now everyone has banded together to help each other.”

In the Colwell’s makeshift shelter. People are taking shifts to sleep because there weren’t enough beds for everyone to rest all at once. A charitable friend has since donated an extra mattress to help some of the burden of their shelter. But housing twenty cats, five dogs, one rabbit, and eight to ten people at a time is still not easy.

“The shelters filled up and couldn’t take anymore. We’ve got friends with boats going out and finding pets that have been lost or left behind” Paige said, reflecting on their crowded living conditions.

“We’re just so happy that we could help people.” Lisa Burton Colwell, Paige’s mother, stated. “And we feel humbled by it all. We feel fortunate that we could help any way we could. No one knew where that flood water was going to go, we could have easily lost everything as well.”

They even waded through water that smelled heavily of sewage searching for any sign of Paige’s in laws, not knowing they had already been evacuated because there was no cellular service in most of these flooded areas. Along with the tolerating sewage smell, the nearby rivers are known to carry Water Moccasins, a deadly and rather mean snake that can swim, I suspect because nature was feeling quite wrathful the day the snake was created. Thankfully, they did not come across such creatures on their rescue mission.

Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell
Photo courtesy of Paige Colwell

Upon arriving to her in-laws evacuated home, they discovered that the wifi and internet still worked while the house was covered in three feet of water. The would-be rescuers also discovered the neighbors had left two dogs chained up in the yard. When she saw them, Paige recalls “I was crying and we tried to get to them but the dogs where so scared. We flagged down some people in a boat who went and got them” She added “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get the image of those dogs out of my head. It was so horrible”

This Modern day Noah’s ark story along with a motley crew of family and friends searching and rescuing stranded humans and animals with whatever resources they could muster up is a true testament to human compassion. We’d like to think that when disaster strikes, our communities would band together to help one another, this tale is just one of many that encourage the spirit of togetherness. That is why it is so important for us to share stories such as this.

Do you have a tale of human compassion you’d like to share? We would love to read them in the comments.

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Krissie Schmidt is a dreamer of dreams, freelance writer, and mother of three. When she's not busy saving the world from the monsters in closets or washing sippy cups, Krissie can be found questioning her choice of preset workouts while on her elliptical, cooking delicious southern fare, and unintentionally creating crafting fails. Krissie is passionate about writing and aspires to be a successful novelist.