Love's employees, Customers impacted by historic Louisiana flooding
For the second time this year, the state of Louisiana is facing a catastrophic flooding situation. A slow-moving storm system that moved through the southern part of the state last weekend has killed at least 11 people and displaced tens of thousands more.
It has impacted our Customers and Love's employees, and our thoughts are with everybody in southern Louisiana.
The rain started falling August 11, and it just didn't stop, said Administrative Assistant Stacey Hampton, who works at Love's 240 in Port Allen. She said she was happy to put her focus on Customers as it helped take her mind off flooding that was affecting relatives in Livingston Parish, about 45 minutes away.
"My oldest daughter and my two grandkids live in Albany, Louisiana. The water came up to their doorstep. Thank God it started receding. I was stuck. I could only pray they were OK," she said.
Port Allen is about 7 miles west of Baton Rouge, which received upwards of two feet of rain over the course of three days. Interstate 12 was closed briefly, and as of Tuesday morning, Interstate 10 near Duson is still closed. At one point, Love's 523 in Duson was under curfew.
"Yes, on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., we had to close," said Patrick Gilliam, Love's operations manager.
"The rain got as high as the middle of the stop sign at our corner, probably 5 feet deep," he said.
Gilliam estimates that his community, roughly 70 miles west of Baton Rouge, got about 16 inches of rain over the weekend. As of late Monday afternoon, the water had receded from parking lots in the area. However, we received a handful of photos showing just how high the water got.
Between the rainfall in Duson and Port Allen, two Love's employees lost their homes; one lost a vehicle to the flooding, and two more have been displaced and can't return home yet. It is unknown to what extent their property has been damaged. Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores has an assistance program to help those employees.
But the danger isn't over for Louisiana.
This report from The Weather Channel says that a third of all homes in Ascension Parish were flooded as a nearby levee was topped, and Patrick Gilliam from Love's 523 said that locals in Duson were quite concerned about the Mermentau River cresting.
It brought to mind flooding that happened further west in Louisiana earlier this year.
Many of our employees weren't able to leave their stores due to high water, but the same goes for travelers and professional drivers. In addition to making sure our Customers had plenty of hot food and clean, hot showers, employees served as pseudo-professional navigators, helping drivers find the best paths away from high waters.
"We give them directions, help them with maps, show them alternative routes they can take," said Operations Manager Jacob Kibodeaux of Love's 243 in Lake Charles. "We want to go above and beyond to take care of our Customers."