A Letter from Randy Gonzalez, AT (Louisiana Flood Victim)

Starting on Wednesday August 10, the Baton Rouge area began to receive tropical storm type rains without the wind.  The rains would continue through Thursday, Friday and into Saturday.  We received over 30 inches of rain in 3 days.  There is nothing that we could do but watch the water.  Then on Friday August 12, I woke up at 4:15 am and checked the water outside.  The water was over my street which was no big deal.  Then at 4:30 the water was into my driveway and the water too deep in the street to get my wife's car out so I pulled into the garage.  By 5:00 am we had water flowing through our "Breezeway", the area between the house and the garage and by 5:30 am we had water beginning to come into the house and then by 6:00 am we had water up to the baseboards.  We then made the decision for my wife to leave in my truck while I could still get it out with the dogs and go to her mother's house about 1.5 miles away.  I remained in the house trying to get other things up in the air and preserve and to see how much worse things would get.  I finally decided to leave about 12:30 pm when the water was beginning to rise above our long windows.  I left the house with the wood flooring starting to float and all of our efforts to prevent flooding fail.  

We stay at my mother-in-laws house on Friday night and when we went to bed at 11:30 pm and a continuous day of rain the ditches and her back yard were free from water.  At about 4:00 am my mother-in-law woke us up to say she thought we had a problem  the water was halfway to the front door and the backyard was under water and about to top her deck which was 18" above the ground.  We were able to get her vehicle out and within an hour we were out of the house and hoping for the best but ready for what was to come.  We were not able to get out of the City of Central so we went to the highest ground available which was Life Tabernacle Church which opened its doors and we started with about 25 people and before the day was over we would have 250 people sheltered in an unofficial shelter with authorities saying they could not help us.  My wife and I assisted the pastor and his wife with the management of the shelter.  We started by getting people's names and any health concerns that we may have.  We had people undergoing Chemothreapy, heart conditions, diabetes, and other multiple health concerns which we were not equipped to properly handle.  

The church began taking on water at about noon.  At about 2:30 pm, we finally had a Sheriff's Office helicopter land at the church to survey the situation.  The decision was made to start landing a Black Hawk helicopter and ferrying people with health concerns and children first.  They also started bringing in boats for people with pets which included us.  We parked our vehicles at the front of the property which was the highest point hoping when we left that it would be high enough.  

As we were leaving the church, I called my school principal and one of the coaches on the staff to come and get us out of Central.  There was only one way in and one way out at the time.  This was at about 7:00 pm.  They reached us at Zoar Baptist Church.  My wife, her mother, 5 dogs, and myself got into a Jeep and headed out.  Two hours after we got out the only intersection entering Central was closed as it was 4 feet underwater.  

We then went to my school to shelter in my Athletic Training Room and while freshening up the best we could the electricity went out at the school.  My principal offered to take all of us to his home.  However, I could not see all of us and 5 dogs going into his home for an undetermined about of time. So my wife and her mother went to his home and I stayed with the dogs in my Athletic Training Facility.  The dogs soon became friends with most of the team and my student assistants.

When the waters went down we started the process of gutting our two homes.  Players and coaches from my school came to assist us with this endeavor.  We ended up with about 20 inches of water in our home and my mother-in-law ended up with 3 feet in her home.  Neither home had flooded in the past even in the flood of 1983 which was used as a measuring stick by the forecasters.  

We have met with all the adjusters, Insurance, and FEMA, we have started the process of putting our home back together.  We are currently meeting with contractors and getting bids on materials and performing the work that we can.  We have purchased a new car for my wife as her car received flood water.  

We have lost everything in the home with the exception of our clothes.  We lost our bedding and most of the furniture that we had.  We were able to save our electronics.

Our biggest needs now are funds to purchase new appliances not covered by insurance, bedding, and limited amount of furniture.  We would accept anything like chest of drawers or night stands.  The thing that would help the most are Home Depot Cards, Lowe's Cards, Target, Walmart.  We would use these funds to purchase materials and items for the home that are not covered by insurance.

Scott, please tell your members that we truly appreciate anything that they see fit to donate.  This has been a very humbling experience.  As you know, Athletic Trainers don't really ask others for help.  We are usually the ones who respond to aid others.  This has shown me how much others really do care about our profession and the things that we do for others.  It was very humbling to have my football players show me the love they did when I tried to thank them and became very emotional.  They all said we have your back coach don't worry we got this.  The aid that our state and now the Athletic Trainers of Tennessee are showing us in Louisiana is just unbelievable.