“I just wanted to keep my family together. My kids are everything, ” says Tenisha Longmire, tearfully recounting the frightening events that lead her and her family to a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge.
“The water came so fast,” Longmire explains. “We just didn’t have time.” Longmire said that she had heard that there was some flooding in areas when the rain started Saturday. “I’ve never seen rain like this. I heard there was flooding in some areas, but I thought we’d be ok, since we are not in a flood zone.”
What followed Saturday night would be terrifying. Longmire’s expression, as she recalls her experience, changes...she becomes somber and her voice starts to tremble. “When I got home from work, there was already a foot of water outside. I thought I’d better get to the store and get food, as we might get rained in. But it came down so hard and so fast, that in less than two hours it was already chest deep. I couldn’t get home to my kids.”
By now, tears are streaming from her face. She takes a moment and continues as she explains that thankfully her mother took in her children, ages 10, four and two years old. They were safe, but she was separated from them by the floodwaters.
For several days, Longmire slept in her car while her mother cared for her children – but her worry persisted. “I just wanted my kids. I wanted us to be together. I wasn’t sure what to do.”
Longmire was finally reunited with her children and sought help at various places and venues. It was one hurdle after another. “Some places told us there was no room and some people we met, they were just not kind at all. I felt ashamed.” At this point, Longmire breaks down. “But you folks……the Red Cross…….,” she sobs, “You welcomed us….me…my kids…..” Her voice trails off.
After a few moments, she continues: “You folks have been so wonderful. I don’t know what we are going to do or where we are going to go, but I’ll never forget how kind your volunteers have been to us. You’ve treated us like family.”
Her eyes well up in tears again. “Thank you. God bless you all. Thank you, Red Cross.”
Photo by Nicholas Small: Tenisha Longmire keeps a watchful eye over her 2 year-old son, Derrick.