EXCLUSIVE: Tullier family on deputy's condition, loss of home during flood
BATON ROUGE - As his neighbors toss flood debris and heirlooms to the curb, the soaked belonging of James Tullier's family remain locked in the first floor of his two story home in Livingston Parish.
Before the flood, Tullier and his wife were rarely home since their lives were upended by a gunman who shot their son, an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's deputy, three times in July. The Tulliers rarely leave Our Lady of the Lake where their son, Nick, is under the care of doctors and nurses.
"He's hanging in there. He's fighting," James said in an exclusive interview first televised on WBRZ News 2 at 6:00 Friday. "He's fighting everyday."
Friday was the fortieth day the Tulliers have spent in the hospital. The family told WBRZ anchor Michael Shingleton, they don't count days – instead, they count blessings and miracles.
"Every day, to us, has been a miracle." James Tullier said doctors weren't optimistic about his son's survival, though, at the end of August, he still clings to life.
"He wasn't suppose to live longer than a day. Then he wasn't suppose to live longer than two days. Then five days. Then it became a 21 day forecast."
As the family listened, prayed, and hoped, they missed the sound of severe weather moving across the region. When Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension began flooding, the Tulliers were flooding heaven with prayers from inside the hospital, oblivious to what was happening outside.
Michael Shingleton asked, "You didn't know it was raining?"
"No," James Tullier answered."
"Not a clue?"
It is believed, the Tulliers' neighborhood took 92 inches of flood water. As their neighbors work to recover their homes and lives, the Tulliers pray for their son's recovery.
"Our priority has been with Nick. The house is an object. We know that it's a process that has to be dealt with, but to us, it's on the back burner."
James has been able to meet with both the Vice President and the President. This week, President Obama streamlined the process with FEMA and flood insurance inspectors. Vice President Biden set up the family with the nation's top doctor. The doctor is now familiar with Nick Tullier's condition.
And, the Tulliers ask people stay focused on their son's condition and not the condition of the family's home.
"People have offered to come and clean out our house. No, pray for Nick," Tullier said.
The Tulliers ask for prayers, hope and support. Nick Tullier's condition is updated frequently on this Facebook page, organized to share information on his health. James Tullier routinely posts. Social media hashtags #TullierStrong #TeamNick are used to share thoughts, support and messages, too.
Watch the exclusive report by clicking the attached video link.
STORY UPDATE: The Tullier's thank everyone for their calls to the Sheriff's Office. The family does not need help cleaning out or gutting their home. They have already been in touch with FEMA and their insurance company, and they're making progress. Keep praying for Nick. - Michael Shingleton -- Twitter: @ShingletonWBRZ
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz
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