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Students reflect on effects of Louisiana flooding

In early August, heavy rains inundated Louisiana, causing intense flooding across the state. At least 60,000 homes have been damaged, 13 people killed and at least 30,000 people evacuated, according to CNN. The colossal disaster affected people across the country and on Belmont’s campus.

Belmont University admissions statistics show only a small number of students on campus from Louisiana, with only 4 in the 2015 freshman class. However, many students are still feeling the impact of the flooding through friends and loved ones.

Sophomore Arden Taylor Guice lived in Louisiana until she was 9. Despite not being personally affected by the disaster, she experienced it through her family who still lives in the area.

“My aunt and uncle’s streets were completely flooded,” said Guice. “Their houses weren’t damaged, but they couldn’t drive down their streets. I also had a relative on my dad’s side that is older, and they couldn’t find her for a few days. When they finally found her, a whole rescue team had to get her by boat. It was crazy.”

The magnitude of the flooding is still being assessed.

Sophomore Anslee Lake had no relationship with Louisiana until her former boss was deeply affected by the disaster.

“They built this house and moved into it two weeks before the flood hit,” said Lake. “They lost all of their belongings; the only things they have left are a few wedding photos. They actually had to be rescued from their roof.”

Lake, who is from Pulaski, Tennessee, has seen her town offer support for her former boss.

“They’re not doing too well with it. It’s a lot of time, money and effort, as well as a lifetime of memories that have been lost. However, our town has a fund going for them and the bank is trying to help them,” said Lake.

Sophomore Nic Vulcano heard similar stories from family in Louisiana. Vulcano moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Nashville when he was 2, but much of his family still lives there. After losing his home in Hurricane Katrina, Vulcano’s grandfather was lucky to be mostly spared by the flooding. However, Vulcano has seen the destruction around him firsthand.

“New Orleans is still rebuilding from Katrina, especially when you get to the outskirts,” said Vulcano. “I’ll go through the area and see houses that are overgrown or with a giant ‘X’ marked on them from Katrina. It’s still a mess down there. Luckily New Orleans wasn’t hit as hard this time as other areas. But places like Baton Rouge and Lafayette, which may not have been hit too hard or were able to recover from Katrina, are basically back to square one now.”

Guice has also seen the long-term implications of several natural disasters.

“Some parts especially in south Louisiana are just so poor,” said Guice. “There are so many parts of Louisiana that they still haven’t completely gotten back to normal because they simply don’t have the money to do anything. Basically the government came in and helped rebuild the big cities such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge and then left the other surrounding cities to fend for themselves.”

Vulcano encourages people to help where they can.

“Even though it does happen a lot, it still is a big deal. There’s definitely a great sense of unity throughout the state, even in the less affected areas like Shreveport. They’re still pitching in and doing everything they can,” said Vulcano.

Because of the flatness of the state, it is likely the process of removing the floodwater will be very slow. Additionally, extremely high levels of mold in flooded homes could cause further levels of displacement even after the water dissipates, according to CNN.

There are several ways for Belmont students to help. Donations can be made to the Salvation Army’s Mississippi Gulf Coast fund or the American Red Cross. For more information on how to help, check out this article.

This article was written by Sara Scannell.

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