Hurricane Rita and Why I Love the People of Cameron
Back in 2005, Hurricane Rita hit Lake Charles and life changed overnight. For months we had to live with what we called 'Our New Normal." Of course, it was all far from normal, but I'm very proud of the way this area bounced back from all that devastation and it was devastation.
Those of us who were here literally lived in this building for two weeks and did our best to keep things as calm and positive as possible despite the chaos behind the scenes. So many city officials saw to it that we had a constant pipeline to the outside world that it would be impossible to thank them all, but we do.
We got a lot of recognition for our coverage and that was very nice, but I do want to share one small snippet of something I experienced during those surreal days that overshadows our coverage and it's something that I will never forget as long as I live and that is the courage and determination of the fine people of Cameron Parish.
Exactly one week to the day after Rita devastated this area, I was invited to travel by boat to Cameron. We had heard that there was nothing left but the courthouse and a water tower and when we first pulled up to Cameron we saw that what we had heard was not far from the truth. To say that Cameron was wiped out is completely accurate. I was expecting to find the people of Cameron equally devastated, but what I found when we began making the rounds was not something I expected at all.
As we walked through the ruins of Cameron, instead of devastation what I found was a lot of brave, positive, independent people who had not only accepted what had happened, but were thinking only of their recovery and how they could bring back that small community.
I approached a man who was standing near some concrete steps. Those steps were all that was left of what, at one time, had been his business. I asked him how he was doing and he told me, "I'm fine. You know, I always wanted to relocate on block over and now I can do it." That, my friends, sums up the attitude of everyone I met in Cameron on that beautiful Saturday morning. It was nothing but good people making the very best of a terrible situation.
At one point in our tour of Cameron, we rounded a corner and, too our surprise, ran into a man who famously said, "Don't get stuck on stupid." It was none other than General Honore and it was like meeting John Wayne. The man was bigger than life and, from his attitude, twice as tough. I'll never forget a story he shared with me.
I asked him about his experiences with Katrina in New Orleans and he told me that everywhere he went all people wanted to know was what the government was going to do for them and why hadn't they done it already. he went on to tell me that, when he got to Cameron, he asked someone what he could do for them and the person asked him, "Can you get us some bulldozers to push this mess out of the way so we can start rebuilding?" That, my friends is the people of Cameron. I can't say I actually know anybody in Cameron, but by damn, they sure have my admiration and respect and I'll never forget the people of that fine city, God bless them.