Thibodaux native Allison Leake could not help getting emotional when talking about the place she now lives and works.

Thibodaux native Allison Leake could not help getting emotional when talking about the place she now lives and works.

The head volleyball coach at St. Amant High School was at the Assumption Community Center on Tuesday leading her team through an eight-team volleyball Hall of Fame exhibition hosted by Assumption High and spoke about how recent flooding has devastated many parts Ascension Parish.

The St. Amant area and St. Amant High were hit extremely hard.

“I am sorry if I cry,” Leake said. “In our area, it’s bad. It really is. The devastation. Riding down the road, every single house has all of its belongings just sitting on the street. It is really hard to ride through and not get emotional.”

While Leake, the daughter of former longtime area high school coach Chip Didier did not have any water in her home, 12 players on the St. Amant team did.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported 15,000 homes (nearly a third of the homes in the parish) were flooded after the levee along the Amite River was overtopped.

“Our girls are helping each other,” Leake said. “They are helping families, helping friends, helping neighbors. Every kid on our team has had someone affected. If it’s not them, it a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle, a friend or another family member. Everybody has somebody.”

During the exhibition on Tuesday, which benefited the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in Baton Rouge, East Ascension High also participated, and while the school itself did not take on the same damage as St. Amant, many students there were also impacted by the high water.

Rae Broussard is Leake’s sister and another of Didier’s daughters. She is an assistant volleyball coach at East Ascension High.

“We didn’t have any of our volleyball players flood, but some of our football players and other students and some teachers did flood,” Broussard said. “I used to coach at St. Amant, so we have been helping them out. Some of the players at E.D. White (where Leake and Broussard went to high school) came and cleaned some homes. John Curtis donated $1,000 to some families and all the teams (at the Hall of Fame exhibition) donated some stuff.”

Some of the goods the other teams at Tuesday’s exhibition (Assumption, H.L. Bourgeois, Central Catholic, Vandebilt Catholic, Terrebonne and Morgan City) donated were cleaning supplies, pillows, plastic crates and all sorts of other items.

“We did not expect that,” Leake said. “Just to see that stuff. There is an entire room and an entire storage room full of stuff. It is so overwhelming.”

Assumption volleyball coach Sandy Fussell said she was glad the teams at the event could help.

“Initially, this event was designed to promote the (Louisiana High School Sports) Hall of Fame building (in Baton Rouge), but it turned into a group effort on behalf of all the teams here,” Fussell said. “East Ascension left with a busload of stuff that they will bring back to the area (and share with St. Amant) and they will bring back another busload (after the Assumption Jamboree today). It was a great afternoon.”

While St. Amant and East Ascension are huge rivals, the schools have come together after the floods.

St. Amant, which lost thousands of dollars in athletic gear, has been practicing at East Ascension and using some of the Spartans’ equipment.

“Ascension Parish is just an unbelievable community,” Leake said. “There are huge rivalries, but whenever anybody needs anything, everybody is there to help.”

Leake said she was going to do all she could to make sure St. Amant, a Division I quarterfinal team from a year ago, would have a season, despite lots of uncertainty.

The students at St. Amant will attend Dutchtown High in Geismar on an adjusted daily schedule until they can return to school and the sports teams are on track to play their fall seasons.

“It was really hard when everything was going on,” Leake said. “It was devastation after devastation. I had parents texting me asking what we were going to do. The kids were moping around and were depressed. They wondered if we were even going to have a season. I wanted them to know that we would have a season and that I would do everything I could to make sure of it.”

Broussard said Tuesday’s exhibition was good for the players and coaches and she appreciates all the local volleyball community has done for their Ascension Parish counterparts.

“It’s been rough,” Broussard said. “We have been missing practice. I think the kids are ready to get back to some normalcy. They need the getaway and break of playing volleyball. Playing gets their minds off of things and our volleyball families from Assumption and Thibodaux and all over have just been so helpful to us.”