Holly Beach works to rebuild one year after Laura

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - For the remaining residents of Holly Beach, the last year has been taxing. Some structures have been rebuilt since Hurricane Laura, but not without some messes left behind.

Many of the residents reconstructed their homes with no outside help, but now they’re asking for more assistance from Cameron Parish authorities.

It’s views like resident Craig Broussard’s that have stolen the hearts of the remaining residents of Holly Beach.

“Turn around and look,” Broussard said. “I mean every morning I get to watch the sun come up, get to watch the sun set.”

“This is a great place, great fishing, great beaches, great people,” said resident Peggy Denney.

Hurricane after hurricane has battered the coast, sweeping away memories overnight, and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Broussard is one of many homeowners of Holly Beach slowly but surely rebuilding.

“We are finally getting things back to normal,” Broussard said. “Right now, if you would take a look inside that garage, all that stuff that was in that house, I’ve emptied into the garage, and now we are slowly pushing it back into the house.”

Ray Miller says he still has three months of work left to do.

“I used to have one of the prettiest yards in Holly Beach, had a sprinkler system and everything, but that all got,” Miller said. “Then I had four big palm trees. They broke about 12 feet off.”

Hurricane Laura swept in at over 150 miles per hour with a storm surge of more than 12 feet. Mother nature destroyed several of the homes on Holly Beach, leaving residents with a choice: rebuild or leave the beach. Those who stayed are left frustrated with the parish’s response to storm recovery.

“Nobody cares about Holly Beach but Holly Beach people, but we do need more attention down here, and we do need this hole fixed,” said resident Peggy Denney.

“Right now, it’s dry but a little bit of rain. We’re in a mud hole right now,” Miller said. “You can’t get the parish to do anything. To get them to do something is like pulling teeth. You have to do it yourself.”

“The camps are gone. Even the dunes are gone now,” said resident Keith Faulk.

The remaining camps have been rebuilt with sweat and tears.

“I replaced it myself with no insurance, my money, that’s all I could do,” Denney said. “If it happens again I think I’m too old to try again.”

Denney is bearing the brunt of the work herself, clearing sand with a tractor and building barbecue pits, picnic tables, and showers to bring more people back to the beach. Others believe more economic development in the area could help its situation.

“You can go right across the bridge into Texas, here there’s a bait shop, a restaurant and everything on the ground,” Miller said. “Look around here. You don’t see anything on the ground.”

Some residents say their roots are planted here, and the worst storm could never drive them out.

“We lost about near everything. We lost the roof, then we lost the roof again, then we lost everything here, everything,” Denney said.

“‘Why do you stay here? Why do you live here? How can you put up with this?’ I tell them: this is life,” Broussard said. “We have to move on. I mean, this is one of the greatest places to live.”

Cameron Parish officials say they are still working to fix a deep hole cratered into Egret Street on Holly Beach. They say 1,600 tons of limestone have been placed so far with 400 tons more to move in.

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