WALKER -- Mary Gray felt like she’d been punched in the stomach.

Walking into the Walker Animal Shelter on Thursday, she was shocked to see water coming in from outside and inside the building off Ball Park Road near Sidney Hutchinson Park.

With several inches of water covering the floor, Gray’s mind immediately went back to August 2016, when the shelter was engulfed in 2 ½ feet of floodwater. This storm wasn’t as bad as that one, but seeing water in the shelter brought all those memories back.

“It felt like someone punched me in the stomach,” said Gray, the shelter’s supervisor. “At first, it was just a little bit of water, but then it started pouring in from everywhere.

“I panicked.”

Fortunately for Gray, help was soon on the way.

Employees of the Livingston Parish Animal Shelter came as soon as they got the call, bringing several dogs and puppies to their shelter off Florida Boulevard in Livingston following Thursday’s heavy storms.

Desiree Green, administrator for the parish shelter, said she was calling the local shelters early Thursday to see if any needed assistance. She eventually got hold of Gray, who was crying as she tried to explain what was happening at her shelter.  

“She just said, ‘I’m flooding, I’m flooding, please come get my dogs,’” Green recalled.

Carrie LaBoyteaux and Tabitha LaBoyteaux of the parish shelter arrived at the Walker shelter around 1 p.m. and packed up nine dogs and six puppies. The cats were fine, Gray said, since their kennels were raised off the ground, though some of their toys were lost.

Help couldn’t have come soon enough — along with water creeping in from outside the building, the sewer behind the shelter started backing up, forcing water to steadily rise from the drains inside the main run of dog kennels.

Most of the building got "several inches" of water, Gray said, while the vet room and quarantine room were both "ankle deep." 

“It all came like that,” Gray said, snapping her finger.

“What scared me the most was the water getting in kennels,” she added. “You don’t want dogs in sewer water.”

Gray and her workers were at the shelter Friday, cleaning up the mess left after the water receded. Gray said they’ll open the shelter “as soon as we get everything cleaned up,” adding that she’ll find out what repairs, if any, are needed Monday.

But on Friday, she wasn’t too concerned about what lies ahead. She was simply grateful for the help she received from her fellow animal-loving friends and that the situation wasn’t as dire as it was nearly three years ago.

“It’s nothing we can’t handle or come back from,” Gray said. “But [the Livingston Parish Animal Shelter] really saved the day.”

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