Beauregard coming together as a community to rebuild

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 7:16 PM CDT
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DeRidder, La. (KPLC) - Beauregard residents are picking up the pieces one week after Laura hit their community as a Category 3 hurricane.

Although it’s left devastation for many, the storm has also brought the community closer together.

Michael Blankenbaker lives just south of DeRidder. After watching Laura continue to strengthen in the Gulf, he knew he had to evacuate.

“We decided to leave,” Blankenbaker said. “There was no reason to stay. Nothing we could do. Couldn’t stay and protect your property. You just had to come back and salvage what’s left.”

He says one of his friends decided to stay behind.

“He said his dog was barking and growling because of the howling,” Blankenbaker. “The wind was blowing through his house so loud his dog thought something was outside. But at that point I think the phone went dead somewhere around 1:30, 2 o’clock.”

He says thankfully his friend is OK, but he won’t be sitting through another hurricane again.

Blankenbaker has several red oak trees in his yard. Thankfully, all of them missed his home.

While picking up around his home, he says he and his neighbors have been checking up on each other.

“Constantly checking into each other, seeing if we need anything,” Blankenbaker said. “Seems like everyone is managing, they’re not liking it, but their managing.”

Communities outside of Beauregard have come to help as well.

A group from Livingston Parish set up in downtown DeRidder to give away free gas and home-cooked jambalaya.

Residents say they are grateful.

“Oh man it’s been an act of God,” said Derek Bonvillian. “I can tell you we’ve been needing the help. Houses are totaled, cars are totaled, no water, no electricity, any blessing is a blessing.”

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster really,” said Duff Hooks.

Duff and Pam Hooks, their family and friends are working together, cleaning up their store, Big D Corral, a staple in downtown DeRidder.

“We can rebuild. I’m here to tell you, we’ve been here what would have been 75 years,” Pam said. “Big D will be back. It may take some time, maybe a year, but we will return.”

They road out the storm at their store and say thankfully, their family stayed safe. This past week, they say the community has really come together for one another.

“I see everybody just pulling together. They see people hurting and they help, even if they got problems at their own house that they got to take care of, they see someone with a bigger problem and they jump in and ask how they can help. It gives me faith in humanity again.”

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