ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Sgt. Eliot Bertrand is leading the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Rescue Unit through flooding unlike any he’s seen in his 8-year career with the team.
The 13-year law enforcement veteran says water leftover after Hurricane Barry is flowing from north Louisiana, pouring over near homes in the parish.
“This is the first time I’ve experienced flooding to this magnitude where it’s impacting residential areas,” said Bertrand, likening the amount of water to what he saw during past hurricanes that impacted the area to a greater extent than Barry.
Bertrand says the sheriff’s office has deployed resources to check on dozens of people in areas gridlocked by water.
Sunday, July 21, Bertrand assisted a man who’d been trapped in his residence on Dutch Road since Hurricane Barry made landfall, confined by waist deep floodwaters overtaking his yard and the road around his home. The man, only identified as Mr. Dalcourt, had not contacted law enforcement until he ran out of supplies because he didn’t want to bother them.
“I took it to heart. It made me feel like we’re failing. Don’t feel like you’re bothering us,” said Bertrand. “Even if we don’t have the resources ourselves we can reach out and set you up with an organization that can help you."
In an interview with WAFB Sunday, Bertrand stressed the importance of getting in touch with the sheriff’s office at the first sign of trouble. Like Mr. Dalcourt, many residents may have power and other resources available, but that can change in an instant and become a dangerous situation. Bertrand says in some situations residents may call for emergency service vehicles that are not equipped to travel through high water like the Search and Rescue Unit’s vehicles are, further delaying the amount of time help can reach them.
“At the first sign of trouble, when they feel insecure, they should call us," said Bertrand. Even if residents are unsure if they are in an emergency situation, he says it’s better to be safe.
Anyone who needs assistance is advised to contact the sheriff’s office or call 911.