Livingston Parish sheriff provides updates on recovery efforts

Livingston Parish sheriff provides updates on recovery efforts - Part 1

LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Livingston was one of the parishes hit the hardest during all of the flooding and with such a long road to go, the sheriff there gave an update on where some things are now, as well as reflected on some of what he saw - the devastating and the inspiring.

Livingston Parish is on the mend after devastating floods. To say the road will be long doesn't do the damage justice or the number of people impacted. The stories are heartbreaking. Just the work to get to this point has been exhausting, starting with those rescues during the flood.

"We weren't rescuing people; we were rescuing subdivisions," Sheriff Jason Ard said. "That's why it was important to have citizens showing up with boats. Where do I go? Watching our communities work together was unbelievable."

The Cajun Navy was out in force. Ard joked that pretty much everyone in the southern part of the parish has a boat. But he wasn't joking when he said every boat was in the water trying to help. They saved lives. There is no doubt. What was left after the waters pulled back, though, has been difficult to see.

"We're in the Satsuma area, Brentwood Estates, not far from our communication center. As you can see down the road, devastation. It's heartbreaking to see the sheetrock piled up. Basically, their life," Ard explained.


Livingston Parish sheriff provides updates on recovery efforts - Part 2

And, that is the story in many places in the parish - devastation and destruction. Some places were lucky, though. They only got damaged, not destroyed. The Livingston Parish Detention Center was one of those. It is a spot the sheriff was watching closely in those early hours.

"The water is completely taking over the outside area, moving into the detention center," Ard said during the flooding.

Eventually, the water did flood the facility. More than 600 inmates had already been bused out, though. Some quick thinking avoided an even worse situation there. The new facility had to be gutted. The structure survived, but so much equipment and material was lost. In just a few weeks, they've done the near impossible. The place was rebuilt, it passed inspections and inmates are set to return as early as this week.

Something that remains this week in Livingston Parish is the curfew.

"There is a large majority of people, maybe 60 percent, who are not staying in their homes. The homes are vacant. Maybe they have stuff they were able to salvage. Maybe that's all they have. I'm going to make sure their stuff is there," Ard added.

If the curfew inconveniences a few, the sheriff said he's sorry about that, but the greater good matters more than ever right now. Thankfully, the sheriff also said, he has a parish full of people ready to help each other.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: 2016 Historic Flood

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