Baton Rouge flood victims seek refuge in Western Washington

TACOMA, Wash. -- The Baton Rouge flooding has left thousands of people homeless, prompting flood refugees to find shelter outside of their state. Some have even made their way to Western Washington.

Organizations like the Tacoma Urban League and the Tacoma Action Collective are working with families who escaped the flooding. There are at least two who say they didn’t come with much more than the clothes on their backs.

Thousands of miles from their home in Baton Rouge, Laticia Matthews, her fiancé Leroy Augillard and their two babies, Leyah, 1, and Leroy, Jr., who’s only 2-months-old, are all trying to make the best of their current situation.

“Knowing I can’t help them is more stressful than anything, so I was just ready to leave,” said Matthews. “I didn’t want to wait and see like everybody else to see if the water was going to come to the house.”

This family of four, along with cousin Charmekia Crocklem, are all seeking refuge in Tacoma after losing their homes in the Baton Rouge flooding.

“I called my aunt and my uncle and asked them to send me a ticket to come here because I was scared I was going to die,” said Crocklem.

Aunt LaShaunda and Uncle Derrick are now working with Tacoma agencies to offer assistance not just for their nieces but the many families still in Baton Rouge.

“That’s one thing about family, we never leave each other behind,” said Derrick Crocklem. “No matter what we’re facing, we’ll always stick together.”

Tacoma Action Collective organizer Jamika Scott expects other families could be seeking refuge in Washington soon, so they’re gathering donations to prepare.

“We’re working with people they refer to as climate refugees; all these natural disasters are happening more often and it’s causing people to move out of areas they’ve lived in for a long time,” said Scott.

“If you’re here, you’re family and we’re going to help any way that we can,” said Scott.

They want to helping families, who they believe aren’t just seeking temporary place to live but a permanent place to call home.

“We really hope they can get a spot and helping them rebuild, especially trying to make Tacoma their home,” said LaShaunda Crocklem.

Donations can be made online through the Tacoma Action Collective’s Facebook page or can be dropped off at the Tacoma Urban League.