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. Lowlander

    "I'm looking up at a ship going by." (wondering 'why am i even here')

    May 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    Someone said hey Jed..move away from there. So they loaded up the truck, and moved to Beverly. Hills that is. Swimming stars.

    May 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • grannie clampet

      jeff frank is a land-locked ohioan who's punishment for trashing southern people shall be to remain in ohio.

      May 17, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • NOLA Lover

      Bet you will think differently when this winter rolls around and you are nice and warm in your land-locked home! Most of these folks are part of the labor force to keep you all nice and comfortable during those winter storms.

      May 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOLA Lover

      Don't think for a minute that this flooding will keep us from playing Great Football!

      May 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. billy owens

    Not at this time

    May 17, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jed & Granny

    I hear black tea is running $4 plus a gal. nowadays... .

    May 17, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joey

    The signs are very much in the spirit of Louisiana...
    Very Blues...
    "If your house on fire and there ain't no water round,
    If you house on fire and there ain't no water round,
    Throw your trunk out the window, let your house burn down."

    May 17, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bourbon st.

    will this affect the show me your beads farmlands?

    May 17, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joey

    "your," not "you,"
    since jealous trolls call me on sh–

    May 17, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Andacar

    Well I for one, instead of just taking cheap shots at these folks, am going to clap my hands for them down there for standing tall in the face of overwhelming disaster. Mock them if you will, but these folks really are the best of this country, not the self-absorbed pop stars, the prancing politicians, or all of the rest of the phonies of the glitterati. And certainly not the disconnected dweebs that poke fun at them from the safety of mom’s basement.

    May 17, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan Brown

      Here! Here! Vive la Louisiane!

      May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOLA Lover

      Amen! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

      May 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andatruck

    Really fleabag?

    May 17, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. skytag is a pvssy

    ...drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry....

    May 17, 2011 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joey

    It's possible to lose everything you have, or almost everything, except your life, then come back up, then climb back higher than you were.
    Southerners are pragmatic and tough.
    They'll be all right this time, and the next time.
    Seeing that New Orleans and Baton Rouge (where I have friends) are still there for Mardi Gras will be an inspiration, not a tragedy.
    They'll still be living with traditional furniture and buildings, which I really like, and eating cajun food to the background of jazz, most of which they're welcome to keep for themselves as far as I"m concerned.
    I love the towns higher along the Mississippi River: Vicksburg, Natchez (both in my family's history), Memphis somewhat, and farther north...
    They'll be all right as long as there's a world.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. popeye

    The water dropped a little that's good for some but means flooding for others . There should have been a law implemented years ago to keep people from building alongside floodways and spillways problem solved .

    May 17, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. misari

    Sure, then Baton Rouge and New Orleans wouldn't even exist by your reasoning, popeye.

    May 17, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. LC David

    I have been wondering why there is not a canal from the spillway to the Gulf? Also why wasn't this spillway not opened earlier before the level got to flood stage?

    May 17, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • NOLA Lover

      The following link will give you some excellent, accurate information on the Morganza Spillway.

      Also see this link which tells you about the Bonnet Carre' Spillway. If more people would see this maybe all of the US would be a little more compasionate!
      These levees are the best there is!

      May 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NOLA Lover

    The Bonnet Carre' Spillway

    May 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
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