Signs of resilience in flooded lowlands
May 16th, 2011
10:32 PM ET

Signs of resilience in Louisiana's flooded lowlands

You can almost count on them, usually within days following a disaster, especially in the South - the "signs" emerge. Each comes to mean something to a community, whether you agree or disagree with the message. Some of the signs even become community landmarks over time.

Louisiana knows a thing or two about disaster-inspired signs. After all, the state has had its fair share of recent disasters between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the BP oil spill and now, record flooding along the Mississippi River. In the past six years, Louisiana has turned the making of signs to an art.

Such signs could be seen Monday in Louisiana's low-lying Atchafalaya River basin, which the Army Corps of Engineers was intentionally flooding to spare more-populated areas such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

"Hope you appreciate this Baton Rouge. You're welcome," read one sign posted outside a home in the path of the Atchafalaya River floodwater.

The Corps had opened some gates of Morganza Spillway, diverting water from the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya basin. Property belonging to about 2,500 people in the spillway’s path face certain flooding, the state’s governor has said, and up to 22,500 other people will either experience flooding or have to depend on newly built and enhanced levees to protect their property.

Sometimes these signs are foreboding or signal anguish within a family or community.

"My slice of heaven force-flooded straight to hell. God help us," read another sign, posted in front of a still-unflooded home near Butte La Rose, Louisiana, along the Atchafalaya basin.

Others are meant to be threatening reminders to anyone with ill intent while the owners are away. Sometimes, those are often the funniest ones. Many others are thought-provoking and even poignant, and even more come laced with indelible Louisiana humor and sarcasm.

To simply interpret the signs as casual art or entertainment, however, is to entirely miss the point. They are funny, to be sure. But the truth is, I think they're more of a means of coping – everyone in their own way – with the misfortune or destruction.

The basin floodways along the Atchafalaya River have now become the newest sign yard, and I, for one, have already laughed at a few and thought more intently about several others as I passed by. It's pretty obvious to me that residents along these banks already accepted their latest round in misfortune and have begun coping in the only way they know how. Both, signs of resilience.

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Filed under: Louisiana • Weather
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Grover

    Dear NOLA lover, thank you so much for the two wonderful videos on the spillways. More info than I've seen since the decision was made to open the spillways.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • NOLA Lover

      You are welcomed. Glad you enjoyed them.

      May 23, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. An intellectual American with too much empathy

    My mind and heart are at conflict here. My heart bleeds for the people who are being forced out, yet my mind is telling me not to feel guilt for them because, naturally, those area's are suppose to have water. I personally would never live anywhere that's below sea level, and especially in an area that requires a wall to hold back the water, just seems like a dumb decision in all honesty, no disrespect to anyone who has made this decision...

    May 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Observer1290

    Is Obama a liar or just criminally insane?

    May 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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