The two-lane highways that wind south through the tiny communities of Pecan Island and Creole were impassible Thursday morning, hours after Hurricane Laura’s winds snapped trees and wooden power poles, littering roadways with limbs and electrical lines and blocking access to Laura’s ground zero, the tiny fishing community of Cameron.

Thursday morning, vehicles couldn’t access Pecan Island in Vermilion Parish, where many Acadiana residents maintain camps and second homes. Water and debris still covered parts of La. 14 west, but the island was spared the massive storm surge that damaged and destroyed some structures during Hurricane Rita in 2005 and again during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

To the west, La. 27 provides another route to Cameron, but it also was inaccessible Thursday south of the intersection with Highway 384. A Cameron Parish Sheriff’s deputy said utility poles and trees made the roadway to Creole and Cameron impossible to travel. It could be days before it’s cleared, he said.

Nearby, in the Cameron Parish community of Sweet Lake, Phillip Whittington and his family sifted through the remains of the mobile home that’s been their home for 11 years. Whittington used to live in Cameron.

“Rita hit us. We went back,” he said. “Ike hit us. We moved up here.”

“Devastating,” Whittington said, looking around at the debris scattered across his lawn. “It looks like a war zone.”

The chimney blew off the home, the carpet is ruined from the rain, the new shed exploded, Whittington said, and the home wasn’t insured.

He’ll try to make the repairs himself, he said, because the family wants to move back in as soon as possible.

His wife, April Whittington, was happy to recover a nativity scene from the pile of debris that once was their storage shed. A New Orleans Saints Christmas stocking hung out to dry Thursday afternoon as other Christmas and Mardi Gras decorations peeped out from the pile.

Double-wide mobile homes belonging to neighbors who live behind the Whittingtons were turned into piles of rubble.

Some areas of Southwest Louisiana appeared untouched by Laura’s vicious winds and tornados. In other areas, metal roofs were ripped off, revealing wooden beams beneath. Dark shingles were peeled off other roofs, revealing the lighter wood beneath like a patchwork quilt. Sheets of metal from barns and shed were wrapped around trees or dropped into fields where grazing cattle didn’t seem to notice the difference.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.