FARMINGTON — People in Ascension Parish in Louisiana, one of many parishes hit hard by flooding in mid-August, are looking forward to rebuilding, Todd Tisdale, a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Maine, said Monday.

He is among several Maine residents with the American Red Cross who were sent to Louisiana to help flood victims.

Tisdale, of Farmington, was deployed to Louisiana on Aug. 15. He started as a shelter worker and is now managing a shelter at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center within Gonzales City. The center is a little bigger than the Farmington Fairgrounds, he said.

More than 100 people took shelter on Monday. Many of them came to the shelter with just the clothes they were wearing, he said.

At one point, the shelter had over 200 people. Two hundred cots remain set up. When he first started out, there were two buildings used as shelters, and as the number became less, it was consolidated to one shelter.

Between 15 and more than 30 inches of rain fell in some places. It overfilled rivers, contributing to flooding from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

President Barack Obama made a major disaster declaration for certain parts of Louisiana for the flooding that began Aug. 11.

The floodwaters have been receding, Tisdale said.

Many parishes in the state were affected.

“Ascension Parish was hard hit, but not the hardest hit,” he said.

On his way to the shelter, he saw camper trailers half-deep in water in a parking lot. Interstate 10 was flooded on both sides, forcing people to take a two-mile detour.

Many highways were closed because of flooding.

“There were piles of debris they pulled out of houses that were 6 feet tall,” he said. Carpet, sheetrock and other materials were torn out because of the length of time they were underwater.

“Some people were not even ready for it,” he said. It pretty much happened all of a sudden, he said.

Every time he has a chance to go out, Tisdale said it’s incredible to see what people have gone through and they still have a positive attitude.

“They’re not giving up,” he said. “They are looking forward to rebuilding.”

One person told him they were so stubborn, they didn’t leave their house until the water was nearly waist-deep.

They still have their dignity, he said. People staying at the shelter are offering to help the Red Cross in any way they can.

Many people from the area and state are donating supplies to the shelter and want to know what else is needed.

A church group came with a truck full of supplies, including diapers and baby clothes, he said.

One of the things that surprised him the most was a man who drove up from Texas and spent more than $500 of his money to buy supplies for the shelter and wanted to stay and help.

People are reaching out to help their neighbors and help them get back on their feet, he said.

“I am a firm believer in not giving handouts,” he said. “I like giving hand-ups.”

People are doing what they can to get back in their houses, he said.

“I make my rounds and I am talking to people,” Tisdale said. “It’s just incredible. The stories I hear about how they have lost everything and their house and they still have a positive attitude.”

They have their heads up and are ready to face the future.

“They don’t feel beaten,” he said. “They are just shrugging it off waiting for the next challenge. I, myself, if I was in their position, I don’t know what I would do.”

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