The flooding in Louisiana is likely the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy, according to the Red Cross. Thousands of residents had to escape the flood waters, including Devon Gales and his family.
Devon, the Southern University football player who was paralyzed in a game against the University of Georgia last year, was with his family in Baton Rouge over the weekend when the flooding began. They were home from Atlanta to celebrate his mother's birthday.
Their house, which had been modified to become handicap accessible, was one of the 40,000 damaged in the flooding.
"I'm blessed to be alive, first of all," mother Tish Gales told FOX 5. "And a tad bit overwhelmed."
Tish said they realized they had to get out of their home on Saturday when the water began to come up their driveway. They piled in several trucks with their neighbors, but ran into some issues when her husband's vehicle got stuck.
"The water started coming in the truck and Devon started to panic, because he was like 'mom, I can't swim.'"
They were eventually able to get to safety and later went back to help rescue some of their elderly neighbors.
"I felt good because I was able to help somebody else," Tish said. "We couldn’t just sit there and have the resources and means to help someone else and not do that.”
Mrs. Gales told FOX 5, at one point, there was about four feet of water inside her home.
"Right now, in our home, there is no more water, so they’ve started the process of getting the floors up and trying not to allow things, such as mold, to settle in the walls and clothes," she said. "We were knee-deep in water."
Right now, the family isn't sure about the full extent of damage to their home.
"We have family and that's really all that matters. Everything else materialistic, we can get again."
Tish and her son traveled safely back to Atlanta, where Devon has been receiving outpatient therapy at the Shepherd Center. The wide receiver was hit during a kickoff return in Athens last September and suffered a paralyzing neck injury. After emergency surgery, he was transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
He's since graduated from Shepherd Center and has been traveling back and forth between Atlanta and Louisiana. In February, Devon told us his dream is to one day walk again.
"I think it made me better as a person,” he said. "By me getting closer to the Lord. (By) me getting closer to family and friends. And just helping other people."
This week, a number of people have contacted the Gales family through Facebook, wanting to help out. At this point, they have not set up a GoFundMe, but are asking for prayers.
"I just hope that everybody prays for the whole entire state of Louisiana," Tish Gales told FOX 5. '"Not everyone had the resources to deal with the flooding that we had."
"Triumph Over Tragedy," a non-profit dedicated to helping families impacted by an illness or injury, is raising money to build a new handicap accessible home for the family. If you would like to donate, click here.
At least 11 people have died in the flood waters and more than 30,000 had to be rescued since Friday. Officials warn the danger of new flooding remains high due to the sheer volume of water flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The Red Cross has more than 1,000 disaster volunteers helping with the relief efforts, but the organization said more are needed. The massive relief operation is estimated to cost at least $30 million.