Rescue crews use March flood experience to fight fire, save residents

Rescue crews use March flood experience to fight fire, save residents

GOODBEE, LA (WVUE) - It was early Saturday morning when the "Lucky 13" Fire District got a call about a fire on Tantela Ranch Road in Goodbee, but their engine was too low to traverse the flood water that swallowed the road leading to the fire.

"Really eerie feeling at first, going back there and (we) couldn't get back there because the water was too high," Chief Lonnie Johnson of St. Tammany Fire District 13 said.

But quickly, the crew was able to use their newest tool, a high water vehicle purchased after the flooding in March, to rescue two people from the home and put the fire out using flood water and a floating pump system.

It was the previous flooding this year that prepared the crew for Saturday's firefight and dozens of rescues in the area.

"So March was a good experience for us and the people of Goodbee to know what you have to watch out for," Karl Stahl with the "Lucky 13" fire crew said.

The crew made more than two dozen rescues in all today. A far cry from the hundreds made earlier this year, but the team thinks the people prone to flooding weren't taking any chances.

"With the previous flood, nobody really wanted to leave until the lights went off and the water started getting higher. This time, as soon as they saw us coming down, they came out with a bag and their animals and helped us load them," Andrew Ostendorf, who was making rescues as part of the "Lucky 13" crew, said.

But that experience comes with a double-helping of heartache for some as they watch their homes, some still being repaired, flood again.

"This area is low, low-lying and during a good storm, it will have water in the yards. A lot of these people have never lost anything and then here in six-to-eight months they lost twice, a lot of them broken-hearted," Ostendorf said.

"One of the people that we rescued this morning, said they just moved back in their house last week and [now] water again," Chief Johnson said.

Now as water begins to subside in Goodbee North of 190, the crew is preparing for another night and day of rescues as they expect water to flow south toward I-12.

"Anything that happens up north comes south and with the weather that continued to rain up in Folsom, Amite and Franklin there's always the fear that's gonna come that this body of water moves south into more populated areas," Ostendorf said.

The parish has a shelter opened at Coquille Sports Complex operated by the Red Cross.

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