Braithwaite father, son headed to DC for Isaac award

Braithwaite, La. - Jessie Shaffer and his son watched from the levee as Hurricane Isaac pushed water into Plaquemines Parish.  It quickly became apparent they had to do more.

"I got thinking I saw a few cars in the subdivision when we left that I thought the people might still be there," says Jesse Shaffer, III. "Sure enough, I called somebody that I knew that knew these people and they were still in their home and the water was coming up fast."

The Shaffers both jumped into boats, going house to house in Braithwaite, looking for friends and neighbors trapped by the floodwaters.  For more than 15 hours, they plucked people from their rooftops.

Only days later did the father and son realize how many people they rescued, more than 120.

"We had two boats at that time," says Jesse Shaffer, IV. "Us doing what we were doing up on the north side, the guys in the fire department were scrambling, grabbing boats, a bunch of guys with Team Braithwaite were scrambling getting boats so they were doing the exact same thing on the south side."

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu heard their story and nominated the Shaffers for a national award.

The two fly to Washington Friday and will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation's Citizen Service Before Self honors.  Given to just a few people every year, the award recognizes those who risk their lives to help others.

"We're going up there to accept this award for a lot of people that did a lot of things that day, on behalf of everybody," says the elder Shaffer.

The Shaffers say there are so many others who deserve the award, the sheriff's deputies and firefighters, the friends and family members who all pitched in that day.

So many didn't hesitate to help, even as their own homes filled with water.

The Shaffers house in Braithwaite Park is still empty nearly seven months after the storm and few of the neighbors have returned.

"That's the worst part," says Jessie Shaffer. "Your friends and your families are displaced and it's just, you know that nobody's coming back."

The damaged homes serve as testaments to what could have happened when Isaac hit Plaquemines Parish.

While two lives were lost here, so many others were saved.