Rita brought utter destruction to some Louisiana town

Washington Post:

It's gone. Plain gone.

That's what they'll say when they finally get in, when the people who love Louisiana's bayous and marshes get into the towns where hardly anyone can go now.

That's what they'll say when they get to Holly Beach, where a forest of stilts is all that Hurricane Rita left of a resort town that had once stacked houses six-deep up to the sand. That's what they'll say in whole neighborhoods of Cameron and Grand Chenier and Oak Grove and the other little towns where there was much more to life than the hunting and fishing that made these places diamonds to sportsmen; there were also churches and schools and offices and homes.

At its worst, Rita behaved like a viciously effective bulldozer, scraping away everything it met, scraping away places such as Holly Beach. The full scope of the storm's brutality can be comprehended only from the air, and from the air the images are heartbreaking: 200 miles of Louisiana coastal life broken apart or left to steep in the brownest, dankest water imaginable. The destruction stretches from the wobbly levees that flooded New Orleans for a second time, west to the shattered levee that has submerged more than 10,000 homes near Houma; westward along the coast, where the lowest-lying parts of Louisiana were wrecked; and inland to Lake Charles, a major city so battered that each highway exit is blocked to keep residents out.


On the ground, the scene is a still life. Most of the bayou towns are empty -- even repair crews cannot get in. And in the places where people have managed to cajole or sneak or power their way in, the plastering that Rita administered is so complete that there is seldom anything to do but stand in awe. They would clean up if there were something there to clean up. But there isn't.


But no place is worse than Cameron, a town of 1,900 clinging to a narrow strip of land between Calcasieu Lake and the Gulf of Mexico. Rita came ashore just west of Cameron, exposing the little town that once advertised its "Cajun cabins" to the most ferocious winds a hurricane carries, the winds in its northeast quadrant.

From above, the town's little amphitheater appears to have transformed into a convertible, its roof stripped off, exposing the bright-red seats where people once sat for school and community events. Cameron had been poised to become a big thing, a really big thing. When Hurricane Katrina pounded the port in New Orleans, the people in Cameron thought their own little port would pick up a lot of the business, which would have meant millions. "Now it's all headed to Texas," said Billy Gibson, an electrical cooperative representative who was one of the few people on the ground there Tuesday.

There is more and it is not pretty.


  1. Rita did more damage to the Louisiana coastline than Katrina. Look for "tree huggers" to advocate more money to the fragile coastline than for rebuildiing NO...and perhaps they are right. These "cajun" people will be back and rebuild , however. They are independent, resourceful and are not afraid of hard work.


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