CREOLE, La. (KPLC) - Tina Payne has had to move 12 of her cows to a location 25 miles north of Creole when Cameron Parish issued a mandatory evacuation for all parish residents due to Hurricane Laura.
The pasture in Sweet Lake had higher ground, important to her herd’s survival.
“When you’re moving cattle to higher ground, you have to make sure there are freshwater and enough grass,” Payne said.
The parish took a heavy hit.
The storm left no trace of Payne’s home, shed and barn. Nearly 60 acres of her land, uninhabitable.
Payne had to make a difficult decision and say goodbye to her cows.
“They are on the market to be sold,” Payne said. "Of course, we have no fences, no barns. We have nothing left here. So we have to get rid of them.”
Payne teared up in front of what was left of her shed, a slab of concrete.
“It’s heartbreaking," Payne said. "You know most of these cattle I’ve raised. I’ll go out into the pasture and they’ll come and meet me. They’re pets, they know me, they relied on me.”
Lida, a black heifer, is one of the orphans Payne raised. The four-year-old cow is safe along with her 11 other adopted sisters.
“It’s a better feeling knowing that they’re safe,” Payne said.
Livestock producers face challenges after Laura.
LSU AgCenter’s Bradley Pousson said in addition to saltwater intrusion, the main problem livestock producers face is getting fences rebuilt.
“Some fences were still there, [after Laura] but there are a lot that’s not," Pousson said.
Assistance is available from the LSU AgCenter and the USDA-Farm Service Agency for the livestock industry.
“They’re the backbone of Southwest Louisiana,” Pousson said. “Whether it’s cattle, rice, any kind of agriculture commodity that’s down here.”
The deadline for the LSU AgCenter application is September 30.
Although it’ll take time to rebuild, Payne said she hopes to have cattle again.
“I’ve always said if it hits me again, if we get wiped out by another hurricane, I’m not coming back," Payne said. "Here we are, wiped out, I’d probably come back. It’s home. I raised my kids here, I wanna raise my grandkids here. I’ll be back. Y’all know we’re Cameron Parish strong.”