Flooded Louisiana neighborhood to ‘come back stronger, better’

Updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 21, 2016
A man navigates a boat of rescued goats past a partially submerged car after flooding on August 16 in Gonzales, Louisiana.
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Story highlights

Neighborhood east of Baton Rouge provides window into residents' watery hell

Denham Springs man: "The people pulling together is amazing, 100% amazing"

(CNN) —  

Austin Schexnayder had been scrambling to salvage what he could of his home after Louisiana’s historic floods. He hadn’t seen his kids in six days.

When he first laid eyes on Olivia, 6, and Parker, 4, on Thursday, he donned sunglasses to hide his tears and put on a brave face. Parker asked to see his room and had one request as his daddy undertook the epic rebuilding project.

“Leave Pider Man to keep us safe,” Schexnayder told CNN, relaying young Parker’s words.

Pider Man, as it were, is the comic book hero Spider-Man, an applique of which sits on Parker’s bedroom wall, watching over a pile of busted, soggy sheet rock and an empty closet that used to hold the boy’s clothes and toy tractors.

Pider Man will have to come down as Parker’s father replaces the home’s walls and repaints.

“Hopefully, I can find another one on the Internet,” he said.

Long and lanky, Schexnayder celebrated his 33rd birthday Friday. He’s a tough guy, a homebuilder who, neighbors say, has been quaffing energy drinks and working tirelessly for days.

He doesn’t seem like the type to cry, but he has every day since the rain came, he said.

“This is everything we worked for, everything gone right in front of your eyes,” he said, nodding to a yard filled with debris. “I would do anything for my kids, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to put a roof over their heads.”

Full coverage of Louisiana flooding