The scenes around St. Charles Parish this morning were heart-breaking and unfortunately all too familiar.
Mold remediation vans and tow trucks piled high with flooded cars circled neighborhoods, while emotional family members embraced each other in their front yards – yards that served as the holding area for whatever possessions they were able to save.
Piles of sopping wet carpet were piled high by roads that last night functioned instead as rivers, and the sound of vacuums could be heard eerily humming from every open front door as the last of the estimated 8 to 12 inches of rainfall that fell last night – and flooded homes – was cleaned up.
St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell declared a State of Emergency following Thursday night’s rain event. The National Weather Service reported the 8 to 12 inches of rain that fell within 90 minutes flooded more than 200 homes.
“We stayed up last night and watched the water come in,” Beverly Chaiban, who lives on Ormond Boulevard, said. “I’m just grateful my family is OK.”
Will Stone, who lives in an apartment on Houmas Place, didn’t realize the extent of the rain’s damage until this morning.
“I went to bed at about 10 and my wife came to bed about 10:30 or so,” he said. “Right about 10:30 or so my phone went off with a flash flood warning, but usually we have nothing to worry about.”
When he woke up at 5:30 this morning, he saw that the maintenance man had texted him to ask if everything was ok. Stone thought he was asking about a previous roof leak, so he checked it and let him know the roof was fine.
“But I hadn’t gone downstairs yet,” Stone said. “I walked downstairs and as soon as I stepped off the stairs and onto the floor there was a splat … with every step I took there was a splat.”
An inch of water covered the downstairs of the unit, but Stone said he and his wife were trying to remain positive – they’re finally going to get the new couch they’ve been talking about.
“This kind of forced our hand so to speak … so it kind of did us a favor in that department,” he said.
A few complexes over, Izell Williams and Mellissa St. Germain were assessing the damage in their apartment after three inches of water came in through their front door. One of their cars also flooded.
On North Beauregard Lane, Billy and Cheryl Day said the home they’ve lived in for 40 years has only flooded once before – the May flood of 1995.
The couple, joined by their friend Robert O’Quinn, emptied out the contents of their garage onto their front lawn before they started on the task of cleaning up their home.
Standing in front of their house – which took on three inches of water last night – the Days laughed and joked with their friend.
“We’re alive and doing well,” Cheryl said. “And our dogs are fine.”
On Thomas Coby, Terry and Amy Kenney said the house they’ve lived in since 2010 has never flooded before – even though it has gotten close.
“The water just starting coming in and there was nothing we could have done,” Amy said. “We worked all night saving what we could.”
This morning several members of the Destrehan High School baseball team – of which their son Seth is a part – were at the house helping to move out furniture and bust up baseboards.
Jewell posted a video on the parish’s Facebook page earlier today.
“We’re being told by the National Weather Service that is a potential 500-year rain event,” he said, adding the rainfall prediction was just one or two inches. “That cell just formed over St. Charles parish and just dumped massive amounts of rain.”
Jewell urged residents to clean any ditches and catch basins that they could and said Public Works crews worked last night and into today to clean catch basins and canals in preparation for more rain predicted over the next few days.