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National

Northwest Louisiana Residents Return To Flooded Homes After Torrential Rain

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Rivers in southeast Texas and Louisiana are still dangerously high after more than 20 inches of rain hit the area last weekend. In Texas, a major interstate will be closed for this weekend. And in Louisiana, some people are returning to their houses and gutting them. Red River Radio's Kate Archer Kent reports.

KATE ARCHER KENT, BYLINE: Volunteers haul Susan Ouellette's possessions to the curb. Her family evacuated in their pajamas and bare feet. In less than 10 minutes, water rushed down their street in the town of Haughton, and they waded up to their hips with their cat floating in a plastic tub.

SUSAN OUELLETTE: There was no watching the water rise. It was here in no time. No time. It was - run.

KENT: Ouellette clings to a stack of her husband Glenn's Air Force medals. They went through this in 1999, twice that year. But those floods weren't nearly as bad, and they had flood insurance. She says the cost skyrocketed, and they could afford the policy anymore. She pokes at soggy sheetrock high above her head.

OUELLETTE: It's all got to come out, all the way to the ceiling.

KENT: Will you rebuild here?

OUELLETTE: Not if I can help it. If I can get a FEMA buyout, I'm gone. I'm done. I'm so done, so done.

KENT: Federal Emergency Management Agency teams started canvassing her neighborhood yesterday, but flood warnings are still posted and many roads remain underwater. Keithville resident Linda Carpenter was one of several people staying at a Red Cross shelter in Shreveport. The 69-year-old lives in a mobile-home park. Her son drove her out with water lapping at his truck windows.

LINDA CARPENTER: We don't have a home. My trailer is gone. We left there with the clothes on our backs, and we got here wet.

KENT: Disaster centers are offering tetanus shots, food donations and enrollment in the FEMA database. Twenty-six parishes qualify for federal aid. Officials say roughly 21,000 people were evacuated and more than 11,000 homes have been damaged in Louisiana. But it'll be hard to gauge the full impact of the historic floods until all the water recedes. For NPR News, I'm Kate Archer Kent in Shreveport, La. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.