"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."
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Fifa under fire for fake turf plans; freed journalist back home; corporate conversions rising and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.