22 June 2006

Cameron Parish: 21 June 2006

I have in-laws that live in Sulphur--to the west of Lake Charles. They took my wife and me down to the coastal reaches of Cameron Parish Wednesday afternoon. We're now approaching double-digits in months since Hurricane Rita made landfall, and the coastline remains a shell.

Our first stop was the Holly Beach area. It was to the Lake Charles area what Grand Isle is to Southeast Louisiana. You may recall that it was completely obliterated. Well, it's still virtually empty. I saw some cars on the beach. The number of beachgoers was less than 10 and this would have normally been a weekend where the beach would have been wall-to-wall with visitors. Precious few pre-Rita camps are still standing (and the ones that remained were gutted or destroyed). Five to ten new buildings are being worked on, but that's about it. It's still virtually a ghost town. Cars are twisted and bundled like nothing I've ever seen before.

After Holly Beach, we took the ferry east to the Town of Cameron. There's some work being done there, but it remains a disaster. Buildings, machine shops, offshore facilities and houses are still down. According to the in-laws, the school in Cameron has recently been bulldozed, so that's completely gone now too. It's just sad. There's a closed, makeshift snowball stand in town that is using aluminum foil to seal the corners of the structure. Trash and rubble are still everywhere. I took some photos at the designated Rita dumpsite. It's just several rows of hundreds and hundreds of yards of junk, sometimes packed what looks like about 50 feet high.

As we headed north back towards Lake Charles, we drove through the community of Creole. Pretty much nothing there either. As you head from Creole to the high-rise bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway, you see houses cast about in the vast wetland areas miles away from any highway or any road. These apparently were picked up and settled many, many miles from where they once were. The in-laws told me that one family found their house FOURTEEN MILES from its original location.

Nope. They're not okay in Southwest Louisiana either.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Rita, Cameron Parish, Holly Beach


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