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Witness To Louisiana Flooding Says It Was 'Completely Unexpected'


Louisiana's governor has called the pounding rain and widespread flooding in the southern part of the state a truly historic event. Baton Rouge resident Emily Underhill would agree. We caught up with her at her friend's house after she and her mom were rescued from their family home by boat. We talked to Emily via Skype since AT&T phone systems have been down in the area all day.

EMILY UNDERHILL: When I woke up this morning at 4:00, I went to just check my phone and saw on Twitter that there was flooding a couple miles down the road. So I went and, like, ran and woke up my mom. She was saying, this house has never flooded. This neighborhood doesn't flood. Go back to sleep. We're fine. But when I went outside and saw the water coming up my street, I knew things weren't fine. And we tried packing up the car and leaving at 6:00, but by that time the road was already too deep for us to get through.

AUBREY: So it happened very quickly.

UNDERHILL: Yeah, it went - we're actually at the highest point in our street, so water was coming at us from both sides. We went left, we'd, like, get stuck in the water. If we went right, we'd get stuck in the water. So we were just waiting for the water to keep rising and to see if it would make it to our house. And once we finally did leave, they had boats coming up and down the street, so we finally got on one. And the water was only one inch from our door and still rising, and every other house on the street was already flooded.

AUBREY: It sounds like a scary situation.

UNDERHILL: It definitely was. I mean, I'd never been through this. And my mom, like, grew up in that house, and she'd never been through that. Across the street, there was an old lady who the people who got us also had to get. They carried her into the boat. The whole boat ride she was just saying, like, I've lived here 80-something years. Like, in my 90 years of life I've never seen this water. I've never seen it flood like this. So it was completely unexpected. But yeah, my uncle is actually still in the house. When the boat came to get us, he still said he didn't think the water was going to come up that last inch and that the house would be fine.

AUBREY: So is he now stuck?

UNDERHILL: Well, we don't have a landline, and since AT&T is out, his cell phone isn't working, so we don't have a way to contact him. So we've just been, like, hoping and praying that if it does and if the house is flooded that he just hops on the next boat that comes by and get - out of there.

AUBREY: Do you know if other members of your family or your friends - do you know if they're all safe?

UNDERHILL: Most of my family lives out in Denham Springs, so they were the first ones to get hit. And they got hit hard. All my family out there lost everything - like, their house, their car - and they only managed to evacuate with the clothing on their backs.

AUBREY: Are you in touch with them now? How are they?

UNDERHILL: They're OK. I mean, they're pretty shaken up from losing everything, but everyone who's out there in Denham Springs has found another family friend to stay with to wait it out until they can go back to their own homes or make it out of the city into Baton Rouge or somewhere else 'cause as of now, just because of - all the rivers are overflowing. No one can really get into Baton Rouge or Denham Springs. No one can get out of Baton Rouge or Denham Springs. They're both just, like, little isolated islands with the water coming up.

AUBREY: That was Emily Underhill. She joined us from Baton Rouge. Thanks for joining us, Emily.

UNDERHILL: Thanks for listening. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.