This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, the week of March 13, 2016.

When I was working in Saudi Arabia we designed and built our offshore facilities to withstand a 100-year storm.  This 100-year storm is a storm where all the worse natural properties of a storm come together to produce the perfect storm.  This includes the maximum wind speed that could be expected coming from a direction that allows the greatest “fetch” and followed up by lunar alignment that affects the highest tides.  When all this criteria lines up for a specific time period the catastrophic effects of mother nature are used to design a facility.  The probability of all these factors coming together are predicted to occur once every 100-year.  We have just experienced this 100-year storm in North Louisiana but this is not the first one that many of the residents have witnessed.  This 100-year storm also occurred in 1991 and for those of you that were around in 1958, you will remember a third 100 year storm but without a lake in place.

The storm of 16 will be remembered as a time of tragedy for many residents in our communities.  What should also be remembered is the love and affection of a people that is traditional for residents of the deep south and this has never been more apparent than what we have experienced locally.  When it was announced that Monroe and West Monroe had opened shelters to take in flooded residents there was one other shelter opening listed.  The Willie Davis recreation center in Farmerville was opened to take in flood victims.  Rural Union Parish and Farmerville was he first rural area to answer the call of humanity.   This was not the only government agency that swung into action.  Police agencies were in full force to provide protection and help for the citizens and firefighting teams helped with water rescue.  Government workers and volunteers worked side by side to fill sand bags and local restaurants provided meals for the members of police agencies working multiple shifts.  Churches filled trucks with volunteers and sand bags as they entered subdivisions to attempt to protect homes from the ravages of mother nature.  I was in Frenchman’s Bend in Monroe last Friday and it was difficult to get to my daughter’s house due to all the traffic.  The traffic was not loading up to leave the subdivision; the traffic was pouring in to provide help. There was no screaming, no panic, no arguing and no issues; just hundreds of dedicated people helping their fellow man.  American human nature at its’ best.

In 1991 the Gulf War had just ended.  I had returned from Saudi Arabia and fell asleep on my couch.  I was awaken in the middle of the night to the sound of a torrential storm that dumped about fifteen inches of rain on North-Central Louisiana and the Ouachita River basin.  Lake D’Arbonne quickly rose and residents of the area witnessed the devastating effects of a quick rising lake.  Many lost everything but once again the outpouring of support was overwhelming.  As the residents of Union Parish fought a rising lake the residents along the Ouachita River fought to keep a massive river at bay. Years later I was in Hot Springs and heard of the effects of the of the rain at the headwaters of the Ouachita River.  A nine foot wall of water rushed down the main street of the beautiful Ozark city but like the mythological phoenix, Hot Springs came back better than ever just like North Louisiana will do once the current flood resides.

While many of us remember the last two floods some will also recall the flood of 1958.  Again Mother Nature unleashed a perfect storm and spring rains raised the level of bayou D’Arbonne to a height greater than the pool stage of Lake D’Arbonne today.  There was no spillway and no lake, just large expanses of hardwood bottom land so the rains that filled these basins to the level that is reached must have eclipsed what we have recently witnessed.  Water was over old highway 15, the road that is now an access road on the south end of the lake.  My father had just opened his creosote plant and it was totally submerged.  Local people living in the area went out in boats to help retrieve treated posts that had floated away.  Students on the south side of the bayou were taken to the edge of the flood in school busses.  The students then loaded onto Army deuce-and-a-half trucks to be driven through the water to the north side of the flooded bayou.  The students then boarded busses to be taken to the school at Farmerville.

This was not the first of the 100 year storms.  In 1932 the Ouachita River basin had flooded with catastrophic consequences.   This one I wasn’t around for.

 

 

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