Baton Rouge father's wish for his son after spending month in shelter

Baton Rouge father's wish for his son after spending month in shelter

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 300 flood victims were relocated to Celtic Studios Thursday after the River Center shelter was shut down.

The downtown venue had served as a shelter for more than a month and, at times, housed more than 1,000 people. The shelter was originally run by the Department of Children and Family Services but was later taken over by the Red Cross.

The move was just the latest for Brian Walker. He and his family have called shelters home for the past month.

"Can't find the words for it. I've been looking for a job, FEMA has denied us," said Brian Walker, who lives in Brookstown.

The worst part, he said, is seeing his son suffer through it. Brian Walker, Jr. turns two years old next month.

"He used to have fun being with me and his momma, playing around in the yard, playing around in the house, and just so many strangers around him, he ain't used to it," Walker said.

During the flood, the Walkers got more than four feet of water in their home. Like so many, they are struggling to lay the groundwork of a new normal.

"Anything, anything, I just need a job, two jobs, I'll work it," Walker said.

The Red Cross is also overseeing the new shelter at Celtic Studios.

"Our case workers are still connecting them with resources to find whether it is a temporary or permanent housing solution," said Robert Baltodano, a spokesperson with the Red Cross.

"Our goal is to get those people back to normal right away. Realistically, we understand that may not be possible, so we're looking at perhaps some days, perhaps maybe weeks, but we're empowering them with the power and the resources," he said.

Although Walker is thankful for all the help the Red Cross has provided, his resiliency may come from somewhere else.

"I'm lucky I have my family and nothing happened to them during the flood," he said.

As for his son, Walker said has one wish about his time in the shelter.

"It don't affect him, don't affect him in a bad way. I wish he could look back, if something happened in the future, at what we lived through and want to help others," he said.

The shelter at the River Center shut down in part to make way for some big events scheduled for the facility in coming weeks, including an Elton John concert.

River Center staff will begin working to clean and repair the facility soon, according to the River Center's general manager. He said that unlike after Hurricane Katrina, damage related to housing the shelter is limited.

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