Louisiana's back-to-back hurricanes: Future unsure for many
CAMERON, La. (AP) — Michele Vincent’s home was largely intact in spite of hurricanes Laura and Delta. But tears streamed down her face as she looked at her church’s broken windows and shattered pews.
“It’s hard to come back and see it again and then to know there’s another (hurricane) that’s out there,” Vincent, of Cameron, told The Advertiser of Lafayette. “It’s tough.”
She said people leave with every hurricane that batters Louisiana's lightly populated southwest coast.
“Yeah, our house is still there, but do you know how lonely this place is going to be?” she said.
Coastal Cameron Parish had about 9,800 residents when Hurricane Rita hit in 2005. The next census, in 2010, found about 6,800 people in the parish, Louisiana's equivalent of a county elsewhere.
“I don’t know what’ll happen now, with these two storms,” said Scott Trahan, vice president of the parish police jury.
Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron on Aug. 27 and Delta came in Friday near Creole, just 13 miles (21 kilometers) to the east, where Trahan lives.
“Everywhere you look it's destruction around here,” he said in a phone interview Monday with The Associated Press. “Leave Cameron Parish and go into Calcasieu it's bad there too. You can run from the water but you can't run from the winds.”
The Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it is still installing tarps on homes damaged by Hurricane Laura, and will check on and replace if needed those already installed and then hit by Delta in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vernon parishes. “ALL eligible homeowners within the six affected parishes are eligible to sign-up for a FREE temporary roof ... through Oct. 24,” a news release said.
More than 183,000 homes and businesses remained without power about noon Monday, according to the website PowerOutage.us -- down from what Gov. John Bel Edwards said was 638,000 after Delta’s landfall.
Trahan said Delta tore the blue tarps off his roof, “but I don’t think there’s a whole lot more damage.”
Laura destroyed cinderblock businesses that had withstood Hurricanes Audrey, Rita and Ike, he said.
Trahan said Creole’s three four-way stoplights are gone, “but some of the poles are still up. They were the only red lights we had in Cameron Parish. The rest are caution lights.”
The Rev. D.B. Thompson, who celebrates Masses at two Catholic churches in the area, including storm-damaged Sacred Heart of Jesus in Creole, said he didn’t know whether the Catholic Diocese of Lake Charles will rebuild Sacred Heart. This year’s storms did $60 million to $100 million damage across the diocese, he said.
Thompson said fewer people return to Creole, where the population is less than 700, after each hurricane. Cameron, the parish seat, is even smaller – about 400 residents. He expects people to leave after Laura and Delta.
In Our Lady Star of the Sea, the church Vincent attends, Thompson and Canon Jean-Marie Moreau found a candle still lit even after Delta.
“A sign of faith,” Thompson said.