The recent torrential storm rushed quickly through Pensacola, Florida. We had about an hour of heavy rain, enough for low-lying areas to fill quickly and for roads to become covered and dangerous to drive.
When a storm hits the south, it often comes in a deluge. The Weather Channel now sends out email alerts notifying people of potential flooding in certain areas. But you don’t think damaging floods will cover your own home, especially if your house has never flooded before or at least hasn’t for decades. There is no way for the forecasters to know exactly where storms will sit and spin and when they will move quickly through. A couple of years ago I saw logs rolling across my lawn which had turned into a lake after hours of driving rain. I live on a hill, but in the south that is not always a guarantee of safety. The water has to go somewhere, quickly taking everything along in its path.
This recent storm headed over to Louisiana and stalled there, long enough to do major damage. Judy Wilson, of Wilsong Kennels in Robert, Louisiana, is an accomplished and well-known Border Collie breeder. She kept us up to date during the storm by posting pictures on Facebook. In the early stages of the storm the dark and dirty rain water filled her large yard. At that point it hadn’t touched her house and it appeared it wouldn’t. But within a very short period of time, Judy sent out posts on Facebook showing the water level as it quickly rose into her house, ruining her precious possessions, her food, her clothes and endangering her husband, her cat, her fourteen Border Collies, and her peacocks. She and her husband grabbed the dogs and put them in crates in their RV. Yet more posts showed the water rising up to the steps of the RV also. There was no place to go, no way to rescue themselves and their show dogs.
Many of us felt helpless as we read Judy’s posts about the loss of her dogs pictures and records, things that can never be replicated. At one point she posted a live video on her cell phone while she walked through her house, describing the sound of the rushing water coming through the walls, showing us the devastation. We listened to her tearful words and heard the emotion in her voice, and saw the mud and mess as she tried to save anything, any possessions. At one point I was overwhelmed with the hopelessness and danger she faced and I turned off my IPad.
The next morning there were no new posts from Judy and I feared that the water had reached their last stronghold, the RV and killed them all. One of the dogs I have, Razz, is from Judy’s line and was entered that weekend in a dog show. During the day I was afraid to look on my IPad, afraid that there wasn’t an entry from Judy, afraid that the dogs or her husband had drowned. Finally, during a break in judging I looked online. Judy had found her beloved twenty-year-old cat dead. It had drowned, yet another blow to her lists of losses. I couldn’t read more, trying not to cry in public but wanting to shout to everyone at the dog show about the need for help for the Louisiana flood victims. Dog show people are known for helping “their own”. But from all the news reports it appeared that even the major roads, Interstate 10 and 12 were closed. I wasn’t the only person wanting to help but unable to reach the victims. It was extremely frustrating.
Judy has still kept in touch with us via Facebook. I think it is her lifeline, it keeps her sane to know that so many are reading about her plight and want to help. Eventually she posted the things they need: clothing, toys for her puppies, dog food, cleaning supplies as well as people with strong arms willing to help them gut their house and remove walls and flooring, etc. The list of things they’ll need will grow and grow as they start over.
Her loss is my loss because she breeds such beautiful Border Collies, my favorite breed. But there are many more dog breeders in trouble, as well as pet owners who had to abandon their animals in a panic. Louisiana needs our help. Now. You never know when Nature will strike one of us. It does not play favorites. Any one of us can be in the position of making a life or death decision during a flood, what to take, what to leave behind, whether to stay and hope you live or go and lose everything.
Don’t worry, Judy. We won’t forget you in the coming days and months. Like I said, dog people take care of their own.
Judy Wilson of Wilsong Kennels, 45197 Obee Stevens Rd, Robert, LA 70455
My Razz, daughter of Ch Wilsong Perfect Little Companion