Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hurricane Rita, The Forgotten Storm

NOTE: This post is about Hurricane Rita, NOT Hurricane Katrina. It sounds like some of you didn't know that Rita destroyed parts of Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Please, check my archives for September and October 2005 to read more about Rita.

On Thursday, I went to Southwest Louisiana with Mark. He was on an assignment to cover the reconstruction work in the area destroyed by Hurricane Rita. I returned home mad because I felt people living in that part of the state are being neglected. I was angry because I realized that small towns, which constitute most of America, aren't important to the national media. They aren't as cool to cover after a disaster turns lives upside down.

I met very tough people during my trip. A couple told us that they aren't asking for what New Orleans people want. They said all they want was to get back to where they were before the hurricane.

The Beaumont Enterprise reporter Christine Rappleye was there on Friday. She also met with people who've returned to rebuild their homes and businesses. She wrote in her report:

"We really don't want the the government to build our house," Gene Reynolds [a school principal from Holly Beach] said, adding he would just like a fair insurance settlement.


That's the spirit there. Residents are only asking for fairness from insurance companies. They aren't waiting on the government to fix everything for them. I saw people fixing their homes and businesses. But, it's too hard when you lose everything and you can't get financial help.

© Fayrouz Hancock

Holly Beach was completely destroyed by Hurricane Rita. This destroyed house is a normal scene in this small beach community. The car looks better than the other destroyed cars I photographed during my trip. But, the combination of the house and car sums it all.

© Fayrouz Hancock

The state of this house in Oak Grove tells the story of many destroyed houses in the area.

© Fayrouz Hancock

This is a normal scene in Cameron. I almost cried when I toured residential areas in Cameron. It felt like I walked back in time in a WWII movie. Forces of nature are definitely more dramatic.

© Fayrouz Hancock

The owner of a property in Creole decided to burn down his destroyed home. He wasn't happy at all. I don't blame him.

© Fayrouz Hancock

This is one of the only two homes in Cameron that survived Hurricane Rita. Charles Primeaux, Jr. is the lucky owner. :-)

© Fayrouz Hancock

The high-school in Oak Grove is completely destroyed. I believe they're tearing it down.

© Fayrouz Hancock

This is what's left of Cameron Elementary School's Auditorium. The school is destroyed too. The picture is dark because I couldn't ask the sun to be less bright.

© Fayrouz Hancock

This small Cafe' opened in Cameron on February. It serves hamburgers, fries and drinks. It's one of the very few food places in the parish (county) available for construction workers. It's always busy.

Before the hurricane, the owner was planning to build a cafe in his hardware store. Rita came and took everything away. So, he decided to have this small trailer cafe. When a hurricane hits the area again, he can hook up a truck and leave town with everything. The family doesn't want to be without income again.

© Fayrouz Hancock

Hibernia bank in Cameron is completely destroyed. There was a destroyed ATM machine inside the bank's premises. Sorry, 24/7 ATM is not available.

© Fayrouz Hancock

Sonny Meaux and his wife Loretta are one of the first people who returned back to rebuild their business and property in Holly Beach. They were denied FEMA assistance even though their property was scraped clean of everything. They now live in a trailer they purchased after Hurricane Rita.

Sonny told me churches did a better job than other organizations in helping the locals after the hurricane.

© Fayrouz Hancock

Sonny and Loretta own Meaux's Seafood Shrimp & Crab at Holly Beach. He already had a trailer, a plastic dining table and an industrial freezer to store the seafood. They haven't gotten permission to open their business yet. But, Loretta was looking forward to cook those two crab for dinner.

© Fayrouz Hancock

There were lots of construction workers at Holly Beach and other parts of Cameron Parish (County). The residents just want the insurance companies to be fair with them so they can rebuild their lives.

More slideshows:

SW LA churches destroyed by Hurricane Rita.

Animals on the road.

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