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For Some Storm Veterans, ‘Minimal’ Hurricane Produced Worst Flooding Seen With PM-Juan Bjt

October 30, 1985

CUTOFF, La. (AP) _ Hurricane Juan was described as a minimal hurricane, but along the Louisiana coast, flooding along the rivers and bayous that lead to the Gulf of Mexico was the worst most storm veterans had ever seen.

At Houma, a group of some two dozen French-speaking Cajuns was typical of the 1,000 residents of Terrebonne Parish, southwest of New Orleans, forced to flee their homes beside the usually placid bayous.

Juan caught them napping Sunday night, with many of them waking up as water lapped through the doors.

″Nobody told us to leave,″ Dupre said. ″They’ve called it a minimal hurricane, but I’ve never seen so much water.″

Willie Sevin, 49, said the last time he had seen that much water spill over the bayous was on June 27, 1957, when Hurricane Audrey hit the Louisiana coast.

″I think the water is worse now,″ Sevin said, adding that his house along Bayou Boudreaux was flooded, as was his car.

″They won’t let me down there to see,″ he said. ″National Guard people are stopping everybody just the other side of Houma. They’re making sure nobody breaks into houses, but I sure want to see if I’ve got anything left.″

At Verret in St. Bernard Parish, southeast of New Orleans, the sentiment was much the same. ″I don’t know what I’ll find when we get back,″ said June Jackson of Reggio.

She and about 100 other evacuees waited at St. Bernard High School for the water to recede. Flood gates blocked the one road back home and floodwaters rose steadlily on the other said.

Hank DeoGracias and Roy Rodrigue, both of the Chauvin area, said from a recreation center in Cutoff, about 30 miles south of New Orleans, that their property was gone.

Their work - oystering, shrimping and, in winter, trapping - was disrupted. ″A hurricane ruins it all for awhile,″ said DeoGracias. ″The oyster beds, the shrimp and the natural feed that the nutria live on, that the ducks need. Everything you make a living on depends on the weather.″

″We’ve got nowhere else to go,″ said Rodrigue’s wife, Nancy. ″We don’t make much money. None of us do. We never did.″

The group spent their first two days at a school closer to home, but the water started creeping up and they were moved into the city.

About 130 people were sheltered at nearby LaRose-Cutoff High School, sent there after the Civic Center overflowed its capacity of 250.

Clara Billiot, who has lived in Galliano all her life, said this was the first time a hurricane had forced her from her home.

The shelter is next to Bayou Lafourche, which spilled its banks and flooded several houses.

In nearby Lockport, Julian Plaisance sat with his family watching the swollen Intracoastal Canal lap at a wall of sandbags put up during the night by neighborhood residents.

″It’s got up into the street but it hasn’t gone into the house,″ he said. ″Not yet.″

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