Cameron Remembers Hurricane Rita

August 24, 2006
Reported By: Lee Peck

There's a party going on in lower Cameron Parish. A foot stomping celebration, a hurricane party if you will -- marking a day none of these residents will soon forget.

"I lost the bottom floor of my house, I lost three other buildings, which adds up to about $300,000. (Laughs) It's not that funny, but you have to kind of smile about it you know," said Cameron resident Benny Welch.

"There was just a little structure of our house that was left," said Grand Chenier resident Darilyn Canik. "The roof was flat on the slab, everything had washed out underneath it. So we lost everything."

"Today me and my boyfriend went to my house and we walked around. I tried to show him where everything used to be and it was kind of hard because I'm starting to forget and that really breaks my heart," said Grand Chenier resident Jennifer Roberts.

A year later, life is returning to Cameron. Many have started rebuilding their homes. Carlton and Sherry Styron rebuilt their restaurant business in Creole. Sha Sha's as they call it is one of the few places in the area for resident to kick back, get a drink, bite to eat and enjoy each others company.

"We've been open now about a month. And we're celebrating that we have survived it! We're back, we're better and stronger than we were before," said Sherry.

"We get together in our neighborhoods on a regular basis. We gather, but this is the first public restaurant," explains Grand Chenier resident Vickie Kelley.

"We didn't see each other for such a long time after the hurricane, besides getting together and having cookouts at our houses," recalls Canik. "This is the only place, where you can see people from the three different communities: Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier."

"You never realize how much you miss these people and you take them for granted everyday before the storm. When you see them now, it doesn't even have to be your best friend, but when you see them it's just this warm feeling just to know their back," said Roberts.

Despite all the challenges, the people of Cameron want to be here.

"It's good that our school system opened up and survived. They're going to make it work. We will make it work! We're just happy to be here."

"My children wanted to come back and we don't want to live anywhere else. And if another hurricane comes we'll probably come back again," said Canik.

"When Hurricane Audrey passed through, nothing was the same ever again. Rita is going to be the same way... nothing is going to be the way it was. It's going to be all new. And what that it's going to be, we don't know," said Welch.

But they do know they are survivors. For that they smile, laugh and dance to a brighter tomorrow.