Kelly Munson lost her house to August’s historic flooding in Louisiana. But still, this Movement loan officer is keeping her eyes on others and appreciative of the help she’s received from her company.
“It’s been a rough few weeks but I cannot complain. What happened to us is nothing compared to what other people are going through,” says Munson, 37. “I wish you could see the devastation.”
Louisiana residents are still cleaning up after the massive flooding from Aug. 8-12. Although the water reached all the way to her ceiling and they’ve lost everything, Munson is thankful her entire family is safe. At least 13 people died in the flooding that officials are calling the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane
Sandy in 2012.
The day before the flooding hit her parish of East Baton Rouge, Munson remembers getting several phone calls from her husband, Michael.
“My husband was blowing my phone up. He kept asking ‘When are you coming home,’” says the mother of five. “I thought he was being needy.”
She wasn’t worried. It was raining and the Munsons live in a flood zone, but her neighbors assured her the area had never flooded before.
But this natural disaster is being called a 500-year flood, meaning this level of rain will only fall once every 500 years. And when the water rose, it all happened extremely fast. For the Munsons, all it took was one morning to lose everything.
At 2 a.m. Michael Munson took a phone call. The rain was falling steadily, but there weren’t any puddles in the yard. At 6 a.m., one of the family’s four cats was yowling and going crazy.
“I went outside and stepped in about 6 inches of water,” Kelly says.
That was the first indication that the flooding hitting the rest of the state was headed toward their area called Central. The Munsons and their kids ages 9-15 grabbed a few changes of clothes, their dog and four cats and headed for higher ground. Just 90 minutes later, the water was 3 feet deep.
Although they got out and everyone is safe, Kelly now realizes how much danger they were in that morning.
“This is how fast it was, by the time we got the kids and animals and waded back to the truck, the water was already up to my kid’s upper chest,” she says. “I was so panicked about getting out of the house, it didn’t occur to me that my kids, who were wading in the water, they could have gotten washed away.”
The family headed to Kelly’s mother’s house. Again, time was on their side. If they had been 20 minutes later, they would have been stuck on the interstate, which authorities had closed.
Although they got out in Michael’s truck, Kelly lost her car to the floodwater. They also lost all their pictures, clothing, furniture, housewares.
“After a day or so, I realized one of the twins was wearing the same clothes,” she says.” I said ‘You are a nasty little monkey.’ She said, ‘Momma, I keep putting the same clothes back on because it’s all I have.”
The family is living in a hotel but recently bought a new car. The house has been gutted to the studs and is being treated for mold. Insurance is helping a lot. They rent the home to be in a good school district, and their lease runs through the fall. There aren’t any apartments available now, so they plan to move back in once the renovations are complete.
But there’s no way to know how long it will take. Materials and crews will be in high demand across the state for a while. More than 60,000 homes statewide were damaged in the flooding. Kelly says her whole town was underwater.
“When you drive down the neighborhood, it looks like an apocalypse,” Kelly says. “There’s piles of trash on the road and that’s the entire contents of a person’s house.”
But thanks to Movement’s generosity, the Munson family is getting back on their feet.
“Movement has been awesome,” Kelly says, a loan officer who started with the Baton Rouge office when it opened in April, 2015.
They are working with Love Works and received a giftcard to Walmart for supplies. Plus, a colleague set up a GoFundMe page for the family and it has received more than $6,800 in donations. And co-workers collected clothing, towels, plates and more.
“I don’t even know what all is in there. It’s all just piled in my van,” she says.
Movement team members wanting to help with flood relief efforts have two ways to do so: Either with a donation to Samaritan’s Purse, which will be matched by the Movement Foundation, or by logging their volunteer hours at a qualifying nonprofit, which will result in money from the Movement Foundation. Movement hopes to raise $10,000.