Heading to Baton Rouge

Written April 17th, 2017


Double Rainbow outside NOLA airport

Rainbow greeting us when we landed

On our first trip to New Orleans in 2009, we took a self-guided tour through the hurricane  damaged Ninth Ward.  In the written directions, there were several places where it said, in capital letters “DO NOT GO TO BATON ROUGE”.  We weren’t sure what horrors were to be found in Baton Rouge, but we stayed away from those exits. Warren told us that he had gone to Baton Rouge at one point and ended up spending 13 years there. This became the joke of that first trip.  If we went to Baton Rouge, we’d end up stuck there for 13 years, and we didn’t want to risk that.

The real reason became obvious after driving around for a while.  There are 3 highways that come together in the area we were stay, so there are several places where you have to choose west (to Baton Rouge) or east (to pretty much every where we had to be).  It turned out to be good advice in general, but I’m not really sure it had to be written quite some many times, and in capital letters.

This year we will actually be going to Baton Rouge. On purpose.  Baton Rouge was hit by devastating floods last August.  The area received 20 inches of rain over 3 days.  Eight rivers went over flood stage, several of them at record levels,  and 146,000 homes in the area around Baton Rouge were damaged.  It was the worst natural disaster in the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

We actually registered for this trip the week of the flood, to work in New Orleans. After we realized how bad the damage was in Baton Rouge, we started thinking that we might like to help out there instead.  In September, SBP, the group we volunteer with, told us that they had so many groups volunteering in New Orleans this week that they would have us working in shifts, one group in the morning, one in the afternoon. We’ve done shift work before, so that wasn’t a problem, but with New Orleans saturated with volunteers, we decided to ask SBP about working in Baton Rouge instead.   They had just opened Baton Rouge office at that point and weren’t ready to take on volunteers, but they told us they’d let us know when they were ready.  By the end of October, they were looking for people to switch from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, and we were in.

Baton Rouge is about an hour and a half from New Orleans, but we decided to stay at our regular place anyway.  We  couldn’t find any that was close enough to Baton Rouge to make it worth switching.  Plus, we really like it here at Annunciation.  So we’ll have a long commute, but we are looking forward to making a difference in a city that needs a lot of help right now.  It helps to know that there are still plenty of people working here in New Orleans this week too.

We’ve been making Baton Rouge jokes for the past 9 years, so it will feel a little strange the first time  we take that exit heading west.  I’m looking forward to finally seeing the city we have talked about so much, and getting a change to see more of Louisiana.  We are hoping that the 13 year thing was just something that happened to Warren though, since we need to be back in New Orleans for dinner every night.

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