UNION GROVE, Ala. - There's a young Morgan County man, a Brewer High School grad, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has spent days helping rescue people from their flooded homes.
Now that the flood waters are just beginning to recede, he's been busy helping others reclaim what could be salvaged. His mother tells us he's even opened his home, a small apartment meant to house no more than three, but more than a dozen people with nowhere else to go will sleep there tonight.
Tyler Parker says it all started when a friend told him his grandmother was trapped in her flooded home. With nothing more than a one man kayak, Tyler and his friend, Patrick Spikes, waded more than a mile through a flooded neighborhood to reach the woman, and then walked her out to safety.
We reached Tyler on his cell phone late Tuesday afternoon. “And then once we got his grandmother out, she's 88 years old, once we got her out, we just decided that there were too many people that were stranded out there to just leave them so we turned back and just kept making trips into the neighborhood,” Tyler explained.
They would make more than a dozen trips in and back out of the area, each time bringing at least one flood victim to safety. They did this, over and over again, with only that one man kayak, for almost eight hours until the National Guard finally made them stop for their own safety. By then, he and Patrick had brought 11 adults and three children to safety.
Tyler’s mother, Tina Parker, was on pins and needles the entire time. ”He called Saturday night, and it was late. We hadn't really heard from him, and we had our good cry and good prayer and he was telling me that, 'Mom, I’m covered in gas and sewage and ant bites and oil and beat, you know, I broke my oar from my kayak beating off snakes,'” she told us.
Since then, Tyler has helped other families reach their friends or relatives. He's helped friends pull up carpet and search for belongings that could be salvaged. He says he really hasn't stopped long enough to let it all sink in. His mother says she knows him, and knows he wishes he could have done more.
“He had to leave people that was, that didn't want to leave their belongings, didn't want to leave their animals, and that was very upsetting to him,” Tina says.
Tyler says he's confident people of that area will band together and recover from all the city has been forced to endure, and he looks forward to being a part of the city's future.
Tyler says he felt led to Baton Rouge, leaving Troy State just before he finished his graduate studies to teach and coach at a Baptist school. He arrived there the day after Alton Sterling was shot and killed.
He still plans to finish his masters degree.