A summer from hell
This time of the year usually is met with much anticipation. The children are back in the classroom for a new school year. Football season is in sight, and the opening weekend of dove season is just around the corner.
This hasn’t been a routine year in Louisiana, though, by any stretch of the means. It’s been overshadowed by Mother Nature and an outbreak of violence that’s tested the patience of an otherwise civilized society.
Here in our neck of the woods in northeastern Louisiana, a once-in-a-lifetime rainfall of more than 20 inches in some 24 hours in March prompted the flooding of thousands of homes and businesses in Ouachita Parish at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. It’s put a ding in the economy. It also initiated another round of discussions about flood control and drainage and the fact that local governments don’t have the money to make it any better. “What else is new?” is often overheard.
In early July, Baton Rouge police shot and killed an armed career criminal who was black. Somehow, in the minds of some misguided and misinformed individuals, it was the officers’ fault. After all, the police officers were white and the perpetrator was a black man.
The shooting death of Alton Sterling sparked days of protests that turned violent on a few occasions thanks to that militant outfit called Black Lives Matter (BLM). Funded by some wealthy liberals and a host of corporations such as Coca-Cola, BLM has a funny way of showing up in communities under duress and succeeds in causing a whole lot of trouble for others to clean up after BLM skips town.
Just two weeks after the Sterling incident, a black man from Missouri who was dressed in body armor and heavily armed ambushed a handful of law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, killing two Baton Rouge police officers and an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy. Three other officers were wounded including one who’s still in bad shape.
It’s worth noting the shooter had previously taken to social media to advocate violence against law enforcement officers. And apparently he was inspired to act in the wake of the shootings of Dallas police.
Then there’s the flooding. Thanks to more than 20 inches of rain from Thursday to Saturday two weeks ago, the Comite and Amite rivers flooded just about all of Livingston Parish and sent flood waters south and southwest into East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes and beyond.
Some 70 percent of the homes in Livingston flooded. Eight parishes were declared disaster areas including parishes in Acadiana where rainfall created havoc, too. Meanwhile, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon estimated that more than 80 percent of the homes and businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish are not covered by flood insurance. On a sadder note, the flooding had claimed 10 lives as of Tuesday afternoon.
It’s far too early to put a dollar figure on the flooding in southern Louisiana. Suffice it to say it will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars. Without assistance from the federal government, even a partial recovery in communities adversely affected by flooding will not be possible.
While assistance from the Feds will flow to Louisiana through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local and state governments will be expected to pick up some of the costs to rehabilitate roads and bridges and schools. Needless to say, local governments won’t have the money to handle it, and we can fully expect Gov. John Bel Edwards to inform us the state doesn’t have the money either. Once again, the Feds will be expected to bail us out.
So it goes without saying that the summer of 2016 hasn’t been a good one in Louisiana. You could describe it as a summer from hell.
But we are Louisianians. We’ve faced trials and tribulations before. We overcame them. And we’ll overcome this latest setback, too.
Sam Hanna is a state