Predictions of record-setting rainfall in New Orleans two weeks ago never came to pass, but it was a very different story north and east of Lake Pontchartrain. Monroe reported 24 inches of rain, while Shreveport got 12 inches. And most of that drained into Louisiana and Mississippi waterways, especially the Abita, Bogue Falaya, Tchefuncte and Pearl rivers.
The Northshore saw historic flooding in 1983, but by all measures the flood of 2016 was worse. The Bogue Falaya crested at 20 feet (flood stage is 6 feet). In Mississippi, the Pearl reached just over 20 feet (flood stage is 14 feet). At least four people died as a result of the storm and the flood. Areas of northwestern St. Tammany Parish that never had seen floodwaters before were flooded out, and many of those affected don't have flood insurance. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries had rescued 777 people (plus 120 dogs and six cats) in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington and more than a dozen other parishes as of March 14, when the waters were receding.
While metro New Orleans was largely spared, the cleanup effort for thousands of homes that flooded comes just two weeks after 10 tornadoes touched down in southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi. New Orleanians know how it feels to lose everything in a flood, and we know how it feels to know that others care. Here are ways you can help, along with resources for those who need them.
• President Barack Obama has granted Gov. John Bel Edwards' request to issue a major disaster declaration for the state's affected parishes, opening the door for federal aid. Those in the affected areas can visit www.disasterassistance.gov to find federal resources and help, or call 211.
• The group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany is collecting donations for flood victims. Most urgently needed: cleaning supplies, diapers and personal hygiene items. Used clothing is lower priority. In Slidell, drop off items at Northshore Mini Storage (4466 Pontchartrain Drive); in Mandeville, visit Century 21 SELA (4700 Highway 22, Suite 5). For more information or if you have any questions, leave a note on the Concerned Citizens' Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ConcernedCitizensOfStTammany.
• Petco is an official dropoff location for the American Red Cross, accepting items to help people and pets. Southshore residents can drop off items at Petco stores in Metairie (3520 Veterans Memorial Blvd.), Covington (7303 Pinnacle Parkway) and Slidell (280 Kensington Blvd.).
• The United Way of Southeast Louisiana seeks donations to help with short- and long-term recovery. You can donate online by credit card at www.unitedwaysela.org/flood. Those who want to donate by check can send them to United Way of Southeast Louisiana Flood Relief, 2515 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70119.
• Mayor Mitch Landrieu reactivated the "NOLA Pay It Forward" fund to help flood victims (the original fund was set up in 2011 in response to Mississippi River flooding). The fund is managed by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. To donate, visit www.gnof.org/NOLAPayItForward, or email Allie Betts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's no better way to respond to a disaster than to help neighbors who weren't as fortunate. Please give generously.