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Tornado damage: One week later

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:45 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It has been a week now since a tornado hit south Lake Charles, damaging dozens of homes.

While the weather looks different today, broken windows and debris still remain in one neighborhood.

It is a sign that hangs in front of Paul Pettefer’s home; it reads “Trust our god, Help our neighbor, and love our country.”

“When Hurricane Laura was approaching, I knew it was going to be a real big storm, cause a lot of damage, and we were going to have to have a lot of work to be strong on the other side of it, and I thought about what makes America strong and Louisiana strong, and those three phrases came to mind.”

Now, he is using it once again.

“I saw people driving by the house, y’all had a story about Hemlock street, and I didn’t want people to feel discouraged when they drove by, he said. “I wanted them to see that we can rebuild, and we will, so that’s why I put it up along with my American flag.

A week later, an eerie silence filled the halls as he gave me a tour of what used to be the place he called home.

“This is the living room, this is where my wife was sitting, and then the wind came in through this way and blowing out these doors, and she ran over hereunder.”

While the storm forced him and his family to move into his new house early, he tells me they still have a lot of cleaning up to do.

“Last Wednesday, I sent one text to the elders at my church, and 40 people showed up, and my phone kept calling, and we actually had all that crew here, and one of my friends rented a truck, and we moved all of our stuff that wasn’t destroyed, boxed up to the new house,” he said. “So we really haven’t been back here to clean up much.”

With some rainy weather expected Wednesday evening, I did ask if he was worried about the open spaces.

“Well, it will be a sticky mess when it gets all wet,” he said. “So I don’t know what to do about that, but we’ll just take it one day at a time.”

Despite the challenges, he counts his blessings.

“Today, my family’s safe, and god’s encouraged us with our friends and church, and so that’s good enough for me.”

Paul’s wife and one of his youngest daughters were in the house during the tornado— he tells us they are okay.

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