Hurrican Hermine brought flooding to MLK Street for days
By Dexter McCree, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — As the Tampa Bay area dries up and put the ordeal of Hurricane Hermine behind them, St. Petersburg resident Dominique Burney continues to grieve for her hometown in Louisiana.
Louisiana is at the core of Burney’s being. She was born and raised there, specifically in a little town outside Baton Rouge called Baywood.
It is country and rural, but it is also a tight-knit community. Baywood has an unofficial neighborhood watch where most people know each other and are in some way connected. Grateful that the Tampa Bay area was spared a direct hit from Hermine, her heart is heavy for the people in Louisiana.
“There are times that I feel helpless to my people in Louisiana. Like any other place, it has its share of challenges. There are different types of people with various beliefs who are family oriented, hardworking and it’s a peaceful place to call home,” said Burney.
In August, that peace was disturbed when a major storm system traveled through the southern parishes of Louisiana and dumped 31 inches of rain in a 15-hour time span. A weather forecast discussion from the National Weather Service in New Orleans said that the moisture content in the atmosphere was higher than what has been observed there during some tropical cyclones. It was even close to an all-time record for the area, they added.
When that much moisture is available in the atmosphere, thunderstorms can produce excessive rainfall of several inches in a single hour, leading to astronomical totals over time.
“It flooded the areas that I call home,” said Burney. “Friends and families were displaced, their possessions destroyed and homes ruined. Many of them barely escaped with the clothes on their backs. They literally have nothing.”
Burney said some of her family and friends were renters and are now faced with having to find housing outside the area they once lived. Most were homeowners, however, who now have the daunting task of gutting and cleaning their homes without the assistance of flood or homeowner’s insurance.
“The flooding took away security and peace along with possessions and loved ones.”
For Burney, her husband Akeen and their children, St. Petersburg is now home, but a part of their heart and family is still in Louisiana. She is reminded through friends and family on Facebook of the stench of the water, the wildlife within it, the damage to their homes, the long lines for aid, the atrocities of the organizations sent to help and a feeling that the rest of the country has abandoned them.
Many comment on how it seemed as though the media outside of Louisiana did not do much to report the disaster. It hurts because she loves her people there.
Those that are gutting their homes are in standing water and being exposed to mosquitos and various diseases. They are in need of mosquito repellant, mold removing products, building materials, etc. Not to mention basic necessities such as clothes, shoes, undergarments of all sizes, baby items (diapers, formula, bottles, comfort things) and cleaning supplies (mops, buckets, bleach, etc.).
“Thankfully these are a resilient people who bounce back from anything, but they need our help,” she said.
It is Burney’s goal to send as many donations of needed items as possible to area churches serving as distribution centers directly to the people affected. Many of those same churches are offering hot meals around the clock for people fixing homes and trying to put their lives back together. Her hope is that the folks in the Tampa Bay area will answer the call to donate supplies to help families in Louisiana, if for no other reason than it could have been us.