"I think we had 109 trees or parts of trees that had fallen either on homes, fences, garages, cars, some type of structure," says delaHoussaye. "To my knowledge, there were no injuries. We did lose a couple of homes where trees went through the center of the home, one or two completely destroyed." The city was without electricity for five days or more in some areas. Lee Hebert, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for Acadia Parish, says the electricity is back on in about 90 percent of the parish, as is water and sewage.
Acadia Parish was under a voluntary evacuation for Hurricane Rita, and most of its damage came from sustained tornadic force winds. "All day Saturday, we were in that tornado area," says delaHoussaye. "I know that a tornado hit a barn and put it into a Cleco substation." The city quickly entered into a contract with the Office of Emergency Preparedness for cleanup, and most of the streets are clear. But huge piles of debris and tree limbs are piled in front of almost every home, lining streets as far as the eye can see. Hebert says more than half the parish is still waiting to be cleaned.
In south Crowley, one of the oldest sections of town, Ted Taylor stands in his front yard looking bewildered as he surveys the hole in his attic caused by a Sycamore tree. The tree's trunk and roots now lie on the side of the house, and the hole is loosely covered with tarp. "I was totally redoing the whole thing," says house painter Taylor. His home is a two-story, pink Victorian home dating back to 1904 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
He holds up a photograph of the home pre-Rita. Its elegant front has wide, double porches, white railings, and two gables decorate the top.
The bottom porch floor is all that remains on the front of the house. It's covered with splintered wood and pieces of railing, and a white wicker chair is crushed under debris on one side.
Taylor says the tree fell around 2:30 a.m. Sept. 24, right after he went to bed. "I was on the porch about a half hour before, and the wind just didn't sound right," he says. He's not sure if a tornado came through. "I had lots of water damage. It was like a waterfall down the stairs. I had to drill holes in the floor so the water could drain." The home isn't livable, and Taylor is staying in a camper in his driveway. A second tree behind the house was also uprooted and broke the main water line. Taylor plans to cut it down. "I've learned my lesson," he says. "They're beautiful trees, but they're not worth it."
Not far from Taylor's home are the railroad tracks and the Crowley office of Family Support, where food stamps are being handed out until Oct. 14. A line of people a block long wait in the hot sun, many holding umbrellas for shade. Shelli Britt is near the end of the line with her son Wesley. The Jennings resident decided to come to Crowley after seeing the crowds waiting for assistance in her hometown. "The line wraps around the block there," she says. "I wasn't going to wait that long." The power in her home is still out, and her home and property are damaged.
The landscape of Jennings, on the border of Jeff Davis and Acadia parishes, looks similar to Crowley. The white tin roof blew off of Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Elementary School on the way into town, and sections of the roof lay in a pile in the grass. The downtown area and its historic Strand Theatre and Ziegler Museum are relatively untouched, but part of the roof of the fire station peeled off.
By 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, the Food Stamp line at the Jeff Davis Parish Office of Family Support has gone down and wraps around the parking lot instead of the entire block. The skies are getting cloudy, and the wind picks up. Veronica McBride from Lake Charles has been in line since 1 p.m., and ignores the darkening skies. "What kind of weather? Do I need to take shelter?" she asks sarcastically. Just then, rain starts coming down in large bursts. Some people scatter; others take out umbrellas or huddle under a tent.
Off the interstate, the Jennings Oil & Gas Park and its Alligator House tourist attraction are open, and manager Lou Anna Carty is holding a baby alligator named Nemo. "I've had lots of tree spotters and tree cutters here today," says Carty. "I've had the National Guard here." A paramedic from Colorado just left, asking where to find Louisiana souvenirs.
Carty rode out the storm in her home in Jennings and was out of power for eight days. "I can remember how we felt when Katrina hit," she says. "People coming by, and they were displaced. Now, we're the ones."
Lafayette Parish School Board member Greg Awbrey deserves an attaboy for his unexpected vote during Wednesday’s meeting approving a mediation session between the board and Superintendent Pat Cooper.
The cable television network's suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson from the hit reality show has drawn criticism from the governor of Robertson's home state.
The State Bond Commission gave preliminary approval to the borrowing plan Thursday without objection.
The Pediatric Clinic is housed in the same location previously closed by state budget cuts in June 2012.
Three-term Louisiana senator facing tough re-election battle is next in line for Energy Committee chairmanship.
In a letter distributed during Wednesday night's meeting, Lafayette Parish School Board member Shelton Cobb, in his final meeting as board president, called on his fellow board members to start focusing on the children and stop battling Superintendent Pat Cooper.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, December 19, 2013
Joshua Dore of Breaux Bridge was sentenced Tuesday to 1.5 years in prison for counterfeiting, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office on Wednesday.
School super Pat Cooper alleges Lafayette Parish School Board member Mark Allen Babineaux, an attorney, publicly disclosed the details of a closed-door executive session.
Sun Belt commissioner presents title and practice gets under way in preparation for Saturday
Kerry Bertrand’s charge was upgraded Tuesday by an Acadia Parish grand jury from manslaughter to second-degree murder for his alleged role in the drowning death of his stepdaughter, Skylar Credeur.
Sean Payton announced Wednesday that veteran Shayne Graham was New Orleans' new kicker, and that rookie Terron Armstead would get his first start at left tackle.
Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board tells it all: The board has lost sight of its elected purpose.
A public Mass will be held Thursday in New Orleans for artist George Rodrigue, who died Saturday of cancer at age 69.
Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration hasn't done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services.
"Whether it's the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense ... we're going to look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance."
Get to Cajun Field today and show your bowl-bound pride
In the end, edge to Tulane, but the 12th man could be the deciding factor.
Says ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert, “Obviously, they are not responsible enough to have the privilege of selling alcohol. This blatant disregard of the law will not be tolerated.”
Louisiana's Department of Education isn't properly monitoring the state's voucher program to make sure students are placed in private schools that demonstrate student achievement and success, according to an audit released Monday.
Five members of the Lafayette Parish School Board are facing potential fines of as much as $1,400 for excessive absences from board meetings in 2013.
Acadiana (14-1) broke the state championship record for points and rushing yards, rolling up 670 yards. Photo by Buddy Delahoussaye
The artist who chronicled Cajun life and later found fame with his enigmatic “Blue Dog” images died Saturday in Houston after a long battle with cancer.