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Louisiana floods: Families, kids cope at shelters

Posted at 12:17 PM, Aug 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-20 12:17:03-04

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Many of the 30,000 people rescued from Louisiana floods are staying in shelters, often with only a few possessions they carried away from their homes.

They live in limbo, not knowing when — or if — they’ll be able to return to their homes or schools.

CNN talked to people staying in shelters in Baton Rouge. Here are a few of their stories.

Two siblings try to stay busy

Not knowing is the new normal for Lionel and Crystal Lee, an eighth-grade boy and a seventh-grade girl.

They fled home with their family when water started coming up the driveway. Their father went to see what was left of their house on Thursday and salvaged only a few things. Now they’re certain of one thing. “We ain’t going back to that house,” Lionel says.

Staying at the shelter felt weird at first, they said. They go to bed at 8 or 9 o’clock in a big room with hundreds of others, wake up in the morning, make their beds and take a shower. They read books and try to keep busy. They try to maintain a semblance of normalcy with everything they know was pulled from beneath them.

School is another unanswered question. They’d been to classes two days when the water came rushing into town. They have no idea when they’ll sit down in another classroom, or where.

“We’re kind of used to it now,” Crystal said.

Mother with 6 kids wonders what’s next

Sheneka Ealy and her six children left their house when the rescue boats arrived.

“I see what the people went through in Katrina,” she said. “It came up so fast, you couldn’t get nothing to get out. Cars were under, trucks were under.”

She said her children are doing OK in the shelter, except for the one with special needs. But uncertainty hangs over everything.

“Where you go from here, you don’t know,” she said. “Hopefully soon I’ll be able to go to my house, but what am I going to be able to go home to? No beds. No television, no food. If you can go home, what could you go home to?”

Fate of school worries teen

Chad Taylor was supposed to start his senior year of high school on Monday, but the flooding came first.

He doesn’t know if the school building was damaged. He was told “it’s pretty bad.”

“I’ve never been through anything like this,” Taylor said. “I only see stuff like that in movies.”

At the shelter, he comforts his younger siblings and tells them everything will work out. He just wants to get back to school so he can play basketball and study his favorite subject, English.

“Hopefully soon,” he said. “I love school.”