The Great Flood of 2016

Do you have a time in your life that you wish you could forget but are also grateful for getting to experience it? For me that was August 2016. I know that for most people think of it like a written piece of fiction that would never happen to them but for my family and I it was very much real.

The day the flood officially began, we were having lazy day. We made cookies, brownies, and I even watched half of the Titanic. The next morning was when we started seeing water. At first it didn’t look like much so my little brothers where playing in it. When the water started getting deeper than their knees, we started to worry.

Even with the water rising, we never expected it to get in our house. At first we thought we could just wait the water out, but later we learned that was not an option. My parents spent all day watching the water hoping that since the house was above flood level it would save us. Eventually we ended up facing the fact that we were going to flood and ended up on a boat with our three dogs. Since there were so many of us we had to take two separate boats and divide the dogs up.

We got out of the house fine but know we had to find a place to go. We ended up going to a shelter they made inside a church. Many of the people had to sleep outside because there was no room inside so it took us a while to find a place to sit. We stayed there until my mom’s friend came and got us. It felt like it took forever to get to her house but I know it was only a couple of minutes. Eventually we got there and ended up sleeping in their camper.

We are still trying to get back into our house. It has been more than a year now but we are almost done. Even though it was a terrible experience, I am thankful for the opportunity it gave me to learn to appreciate what I have. I will never forget what I have been through and will continue to learn from the important events that I get to witness.


The Flood of 2016

On Friday, August 12, 2016, I woke up to the sounds of rain beating down on my window, thunder and lightning crashing in the sky. I checked my phone and noticed that school was canceled. I was so very excited for my day off. Little did I know, this day off would turn into about a month of school missed. The flood had a huge impact on everyone, weather they flooded or not. I was fortunate because I didn’t flood, however some of my friends and family did. We took a family into our home. It was crowded and a little miserable at times, but my family and I were glad we could be there to help. There was trash alongside the streets, stores out of business, jobs lost, and schools canceled until further notice. The community was greatly affected by this tragic disaster as a whole. My life was turned upside down. I helped friends, family, and neighbors tear down and reconstruct their houses. I was affected in many ways, for example, I was sharing a home with people I was unfamiliar with, I had to work extra hard in school to make up for the missed time, but most importantly, I had to get used to the fact that my city, and the people in it, would never be the same. It has been a little over a year since the flood, and some people are still not back in their homes. The storm that so many people underestimated in the beginning, changed so many lives in the end.

Cajun Grit

In Louisiana, the Flood of 2016 hit us. No one was prepared for a flood of this magnitude, and we were unable to brace ourselves for the rushing waters from the Amite river.  The muddy, disgusting water from the Amite river poured into homes at alarming rates, and the water stayed in some places for over three weeks. Many lost their homes, and some, a year later, are still displaced. Louisiana stayed strong, and this strength can best be seen by our Cajun Navy.    

The Cajun Navy was a group of people who joined together and risked their lives saving others. Despite their efforts, some lives were lost to this historic flood. This did not stop the Cajun Navy, who did everything they could to ensure the safety of others. As terrible as this tragic event was, we are still the same people. The generous spirit of Louisiana is bigger than any flood. 

How My Life Got Flipped, Turned Upside Down

Natural disasters are just that, a disaster. They gave it that name for a  reason. These can leave a whole parish or county crippled for what seems like ages when you’re right in the middle of it. When a flood that is only possible 1 in 500 years happens it changes the community it hits. Being


Because of the challenges we faced at our school this year, my students and I have been discussing sympathy and empathy; what it means to really be sympathetic and empathetic. We’ve talked about the kindness and generosity of those who reached out to us during the flood, to lend a hand cleaning up or to donate items to help restore our school. We’ve discussed how to pull together as a team and to be understanding of those who are still struggling. Students have shared how friends and strangers have taken them in and supported them this year. It has been very inspirational to see the sympathy and empathy of our community and people across the country. However, it has also made me truly reflect on whether or not I have been empathetic as a teacher. Sympathetic yes, but empathetic? Sure, I accept late work. Yes, I call to check on students who have missed too much school. Of course, I went to the funeral when a student’s dad passed away. But, do I show true empathy and not just sympathy? There is a difference. Sympathy is a feeling of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune but, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. How can I show my kiddos that I am not just sorry for their struggles but that I understand and share their feelings? There is a Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” I recently came across the perfect illustration of this. An acquaintance, Kinsie Johns, who teaches at Douglas County School District in Lithia Springs, Georgia recently posted the following status on Facebook:

“She told me yesterday that some students were making fun of her hair and picking on her. So, after a little planning with her and a written reminder on my hand, today, we showed up with the same hair just to prove a point. It’s okay to be different. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out!?” – Dr. Seuss

I love these kids.”

A subsequent post shows the result of Kinsie’s amazing actions:

“So after yesterday’s decision, we had an interesting turn of events today…The little point I was trying to make turned into a huge support for my little friend! All the girls in my class are wearing their hair in “space buns” and even some of the boys got involved! They all wanted to support her and we even got some second graders involved! It has turned out to be a really neat experience for all of us!”

I was blown away by this! Kinsie could have just sympathized with the girl or reprimanded the other students. Instead, she empathized. She shared the little girl’s feelings and her struggle. What an amazing thing for a teacher to do. My goal going forward, to find ways to really show empathy and to share not just the joys and successes of my students but, their struggles as well.



This school year has been one of the most difficult of my career. In August, less than two weeks after school started, following three days of record breaking rain, our community experienced catastrophic flooding. We got about three feet of muddy river water throughout our school as did most of the schools in the parish. Ninety percent of our parish residents flooded, as well as most of our faculty and staff. We lost books, technology, supplies, furniture and more.  Although our school board members and our community worked tirelessly, we were unable to resume school in our parish for five weeks. Our school was so badly damaged that we could not return immediately so we were platooned to another school for the rest of the semester. We taught in someone else’s school, someone else’s classroom, from 12:00 to 5:45 P.M. each day. Many of our students were (and still are) displaced from their homes and either moved in with friends or relatives or they left the parish altogether. It has been quite a challenge!

The Great Flood of Louisiana 2016Aaron Neville version of Louisiana 1927

Posted by Rob Hattala on Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our community and our schools continue to rebuild. I have learned that in times of crisis, there is no better place to be than with the people of Livingston parish. I have also come to realize how precious is the kindness of strangers. So many people from across the nation, strangers and friends far away, have sent supplies for our students and teachers. They have made the rebuilding so much easier. Each time we received a package, our moods became lighter and our spirits restored. It was like Christmas every time!

We returned to our campus in January and while we still had many students displaced, we were happy to be together on our own campus. Life was slowly returning to normal.

Then, in March, one of our precious students was struck by a car and killed as he was walking to school. We were devastated. I watched as our students struggled through the shock and pain to comfort each other and try to find meaning in the seemingly meaningless. Then, true to form, they began to plan. They held a memorial and balloon release to honor Bryce and they stood by his family in solidarity, pledging to always remember what a wonderful human being Bryce was.

DSFH remembered Bryce Edling with a balloon release this afternoon.

Posted by Denham Springs Freshman High on Friday, March 10, 2017

I will never be able to express to my students this year what they have meant to me. Their optimism and resilience are amazing. In light of all that we have been through as a school body, one would think the students would be discouraged and unmotivated. But no, they are hardworking, cheerful, funny and bright. They make coming to work each day a joy. We have hugged, cried and laughed and they make me so proud. They comfort each other, celebrate each other’s milestones and encourage each other with kindness and compassion. They have truly exhibited not only beautiful minds but, beautiful hearts as well.

Shakespeare Day

Every year, during the drama unit, the English department hosts Shakespeare Day. It’s a full day of fun, Renaissance Era related activities. One favorite activity pitched my students against other English classes in a Shakespearean Insult War.


I must say my students rocked it out! All it takes is a lot of preparation and a little sassy attitude doesn’t hurt. The students also created t-shirts with quotes from Romeo & Juliet. My kiddos are so much more creative and artistic than I am!




Just Beginning

I’m so excited about my new blog site! I’ve been blogging with my students for the past five years, or more accurately, they have been blogging on our class site. Now, I will have my own blog and they will create their own blogs linked to the class site. I can’t wait to read the wonderful and insightful musings of the beautiful minds I teach!