When the water started rising outside her home, Gloria Guillory says the reality of it all really didn't dawn on her right away. In her words, she was "in denial."
Like most of us, she sees her weatherman as a trusted confidante, so when he reported that the rain would subside by 11 a.m., she wasn't worried. When the rain continued into the afternoon, she still wasn't concerned. She figured as long as the water didn't creep up her front porch stairs, she would be fine.
As the rain continued, so did the flood water, and eventually it met her front door.
In preparation for the worst, Gloria, her son Brandon and his two children began taking towels from her linen closet and lining all of the doorways. Soon after, water started to seep in through the doors; they began grabbing towels and wringing them out into buckets to be dumped.
"But pretty soon, there was nowhere to dump, and it all just came in," said Gloria. "It flooded everywhere; the dining room, the kitchen, my living room. Water was everywhere."
As water rushed over her feet and continued to surround her, Gloria and her family began picking up what valuable items they could find and stacked them high on top of shelves. She made the call to 9-1-1 telling them that her family was in need of a high water rescue. Then they waited.
"We weren't able to sit anywhere," said Brandon. "The water seemed to get higher and higher and before we knew it, all of our furniture was covered, and we didn't know what to do."
As boats came and went for their surrounding neighbors, Gloria started to get worried. She sent Brandon out to flag down a boat, and the boat driver promised to return.
"When that flat bottom boat came, we were so scared," said Gloria. "I remember trying to steer them, because the water would be high or low depending on if we were on top of a street or a ditch. The surface was closer to the bottom of the boat, and I was scared we might wreck. I was so traumatized; I didn't even realize the devastation of the flooding around me."
Gloria's home now has four feet of dry-wall and insulation removed. All of her furniture is ruined, and most of the inside of her home will have to be gutted and cleaned or replaced completely.
From the street, Gloria's home is nearly hidden by the mounds of belongings from nearly 28 years in her home, now ruined by the flood.
"It's just been so overwhelming," she said. "Sometimes, I just want to give up. It's a lot to clean, and now we're fighting the mold. And if you don't get it all, then it comes back and, in a few years, we'll be reliving the flood and all those horrible memories. But I'm blessed. I'm so very blessed. We are all alive. We have great friends. Our church came by to help and clean out the debris. And you all have been great. From the great food to all of the cleaning items and supplies we never knew we would need, you've got it all."
Each day, the American Red Cross drives through Gloria's neighborhood delivering hot meals and clean-up materials to her family and so many others just like them. While the people of Louisiana takes steps toward recovery with every passing day, the Red Cross is there with them providing food, supplies and comfort.
"You all are our lifesavers," said Gloria. "You may not realize it, but just seeing you here means a lot. Thank you for the food, the supplies and the support. You don't really even understand the psychological aspect of it all until you've been in our shoes."
Gloria says she believes that you can replace material things, but what amazes her is how this flood has brought so many people together. From relief groups like the Red Cross to local churches, businesses, neighbors and families, the outpouring of support for her is what she feels most grateful for.
"Y'all are so wonderful," said Gloria. "You provide such a great service. You see Red Cross, and you know they help other people. But when it's you, you're like 'wow, they really do help!' So thank you, and thank everybody who helps the Red Cross for me."