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'Overwhelmed' - Residents returning to St. Charles hit with stark reality

Kevin Bergeron said he had 10 payments left on his house - a family home where he and his wife planned to retire.

BAYOU GAUCHE, La. — For more than 30 years, Kevin Bergeron’s family filled their Bayou Gauche home with love, stories and memories. But Hurricane Ida ripped the roof off, and now anything with sentimental value, he has stuffed under a blue tarp inside the home.

“You just look at it. You’re just overwhelmed. I mean, what else can you be?” Bergeron said. “This is where we were retiring. We were going to live here the rest of our lives. This is my wife’s grandfather’s house.”

It has rained in St. Charles Parish for the past three days. Like clockwork, downpours came again this afternoon, further dampening in an already dark time. Bergeron says he’s trying to find as many pictures as he can, including the ones that were hanging on a memory wall in the kitchen.

“Everybody in our family, passed away, had pictures of them right there. And we had paintings that our grandmother did,” Bergeron said.

Bergeron said he had just 10 more payments left on his home. Now he has to start all over again.

A few minutes away from Bergeron’s home is Life Fellowship Community Church. It is where many people in Bayou Gauche gathered on Sundays. From the ground level, or from the air, the damage from Hurricane Ida is clear. 

The crucifix on top of the church was battered, but it’s still hanging on. Claire Jett is the co-pastor here. On Sunday, they made sure to hold the service in the parking lot.

“There’s just such a discouragement and brokenness that happened right after the storm,” Jett said. “We wanted to show our people that even in the midst of a storm, we can still praise, and we can still worship.”

In Destrehan, at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, volunteers from Bogalusa served up fresh BBQ on Labor Day. Kids displaced from school kept busy by being part of an operation to feed families affected by the storm. With power still weeks away in parts of this parish, a hot meal at this time can be a blessing.

Back in Bayou Gauche, Bergeron doesn’t quite know the next steps to take in the long road ahead. But he knows where it will lead. He plans to rebuild what the storm stripped away.

“We can rebuild it. It’s just stuff. That’s what I keep telling my grandaughter,” Bergeron said. 

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