Houma teenager: 'We are Mother Nature's prisoners'


HOUMA, La. -- Hurricane Andrew, in a rampage of terror and destruction, blasted coastal Terrebonne Parish Wednesday with 140 mph winds, causing a gas leak, sweeping away fishing camps and damaging the medical center.

Some said the damage was the worst in memory, certainly far more severe than that inflicted by rainy Hurricane Juan in 1985.


Trees were down and broken all over Houma and Terrebonne Parish. Roofs were missing or damaged, power lines were felled, businesses, family residences and fishing camps were badly damaged or in some cases swept away.

A natural gas pipeline sprang a leak, but was repaired by workmen.

Terrebonne's sugar cane crop, ripening in the fields, was flattened and badly damaged. Owners and crews of shrimp boats moved to moorings along inland bayous and stayed aboard to check anchor lines during the storm.

Four feet of floodwater stood in the streets of Lisa Park subdivision in northern Houma, where the homes also had no electricity.

One Lisa Park resident, Addie Dean, 17, a senior at Terrebonne High School, summed up the feelings of many.

'We are hot and miserable, but we're learning to cope with it. We are Mother Nature's prisoners,' she said.


Morris Duplantis, head of Terrebonne's Emergency Operating Center in Houma, said shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, 'We have quite a bit of damage. We're out of electricity, we've got rising water right now. We are trying to clear the debris so we can get to the low areas to help the people.'

There were no reports of serious injuries or death among Terrebonne Parish's 125,000 residents, although a tornado damaged a family's home in the Hollywood Road area of Houma, Duplantis said.

Authorities estimated that it may take a week or longer to restore electrical power to most of the 41,000 residents of Houma, but it may take much longer to do the same parishwide.

Cajuns with family names such as Boudreaux, Thibodeaux and Crochet dwelling in picturesque fishing and shrimping villages such as Cocodrie, Dularge, Bourg, Dulac and Theriot, took refuge with relatives north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway or jammed into 10 public shelters.

After daylight, people found the city's U.S. Highway 90 link to New Orleans made impassable by downed trees and nearly blocked by a runaway barge. There was widespread flooding and misery.

The Leonard Chabert Medical Center at Houma, part of Louisiana's state hospital system, was damaged so extensively that it had to shut down part of its treatment facilities and transfer or release as many as 60 patients.


'The Medical Center was hit by the brunt of Andrew,' Hospital Administrator Bill Mohon said.

The sprawling, multi-story tan-brick Chabert Medical Center did not receive any patients injured by Hurricane Andrew, but two women in labor arrived during the storm to have babies, he said.

'We are discharging patients who can be discharged and transferring others out until we can address the problems of damage and repair and get back in full operation,' Mohon said.

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