This story is part of a series Herald Guide writers will feature focused on the lives of people in St. Charles Parish still recovering from Hurricane Ida.
Leslie and Linda Comardelle’s home on Cypress Drive in Des Allemands has been the gathering place for countless birthday parties, holiday festivities and family gatherings over the past three decades.
And while the Comardelles recently returned to Des Allemands after briefly renting a home in Raceland, nothing about Cypress Drive is the same for them – the couple, who have been married for 54 years, and their grandson are now living in a FEMA trailer on the land where their home once stood.
The Comardelle’s home was completely destroyed in Hurricane Ida, with the final standing remnants of the house were torn down completely last week.
“We’re happy to be back in Des Allemands,” Leslie said. “This is our home town … born and raised. It’s so hard. The camper … it’s so small and I’m in a wheelchair right now. It’s not too easy but I can get in and out of the trailer.”
Leslie said Hurricane Ida’s wrath was unlike any other storm he’s experienced.
“There were other storms that we did OK in,” he said. “We never really had damage like this – even with Katrina. This one just tore us up.”
The Comardelles evacuated for Hurricane Ida.
“Some people had already called me and told me it was destroyed,” he said of his home during the time they were away. “Four feet of water came into it and destroyed it … there was also some wind damage. Just about all the shingles were pulled off and it just poured down inside. It destroyed my home completely. We couldn’t go back in it.”
The Comardelles raised seven children. Their youngest daughter – a mother of three – died when she was 21. Leslie and Linda have raised her three children.
Steph Parria, one of Leslie and Linda’s daughters, said it has been challenging to see her parents go through losing their home and most of their belongings.
“It’s been difficult,” she said. “That’s their home … that’s the last home their baby girl lived in. Losing that home is like losing another connection to her.”
Leslie said the couple did not have insurance, and that other than the camper they have received no assistance from FEMA. The FEMA camper, he said, was delivered and sat vacant for 56 days before the family was able to get it open.
“We own the land and we’re trying to get it leveled off and maybe get a trailer moved on to it,” he said. “It’s just difficult and expensive.”