Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005 and devastated massive amounts of land and property and separated families and forced many more to evacuate.
In 10 years, much has changed. Families returned to their homes in south Louisiana to deal with the devastation while others stayed across north Louisiana, including Webster Parish. In 10 years, there are many stories of tragedy and hope. One family who evacuated to Minden all those years ago decided to stay.
Denise and Glenn Plaisance, natives of St. Bernard Parish, say going back wasn’t an option for them at the time.
“My parents needed a hospital to depend on,” she said in an email to the Press-Herald. “We had to focus on getting them with new doctors and have a hospital to be established with. North of New Orleans had what we were looking for.”
The couple, along with their three daughters, came to Minden with Denise Plaisance’s parents Austin and the late Marilyn Sicard. With the massive storm approaching, she says it took some convincing to get her parents to come with them.
“This 10 year mark of Hurricane Katrina has brought back all kinds of emotions,” Denise Plaisance said. “As I look at the films on the news of the rising waters, I’m reminded how we had to convince my parents to come with us. They would have drowned within 20 minutes had they stayed. Nine feet of flood waters engulfed their home.”
She tells her story of tragedy, triumph and moving forward. Although she is still haunted by the video footage of people in their attics screaming for help, she and her family have moved forward.
Their oldest daughter got married soon after Katrina and have given Denise and Glenn Plaisance two beautiful grandchildren with one on the way. Her oldest and middle daughter returned to south Louisiana to rebuild.
Her father, Austin, still lives with them, she said.
Denise Plaisance and her youngest daughter grew close to Chris Broussard, who was instrumental in opening a relief center to help those who came to Minden with nothing but the few belongings they could carry.
“We’ve made everlasting friendships from the northern side of Louisiana,” Plaisance said. “We are forever grateful for your love and support you poured out on us. We had no idea what our lives were to be like. It’s been a long journey that sometimes we wish would not have happened. The past 10 years have been a journey like no other.”
Broussard says she met the couple when the relief center opened.
“One of the first families to come to the center for help was the Plaisance family,” she said.
“Glenn Plaisance sat down at the registration table in front of me and began to tell me his story. It would be one of many stories we would hear during the entire experience. He, like many of the good people from the New Orleans area, thought they would be going back home after the storm blew over.”
Their friendship began as one of compassion from one human being to another. The Plaisance couple promptly joined in the relief center’s efforts after they realized their stay would be much longer than expected. At the time, Broussard owned and operated The Children’s Center, and the two spent time there cleaning and repairing things in the building.