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Experience the tranquility of the Cajun Prairie L'Acadie Inn -- Eunice, Louisiana
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Hurricane Lili, October 02, 2002

The day before Hurricane Lili was due to hit, Lance and I started preparing. He built protection for the windows and cleared the yard of anything that my become hurtling missiles, while I stocked up on flashlights, candles, canned food, bottled water and other items that we thought might be necessary for us and the evacuees. (By Tuesday night, we had reserved every room available for mandatory evacuees from Kaplan and Abbeville.)

Thursday morning arrived, the day of Hurricane Lili, and we thought we were adequately prepared. As it turned out, Lili was downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 2. Its path was aimed directly at Eunice. We are approximately sixty miles from the coast so we thought we should be safe. Why would emergency personnel recommend to only evacuate to North of Interstate 10? Winds were not expected to become "bad" until about 11 am, so Lance and I made coffee and biscuits for our guests.

We watched the local news station. L'Acadie Inn was on the east side of the hurricane, which happens to be the worst due to tornadic activity. As we watched, the meteorologists started pointing out tornadoes cropping up just a few miles south of us. Lance went around to all of our guests and started warning them, while I gathered up the children (who were running quite wild with stress and anticipation).

Shortly after Lance came back in, the power went off. We gathered in our bedroom and started praying the rosary. The children fell asleep. All this time, the rains were torrential. The wind really picked up and the house started to shake. Our bed began shaking as well. We decided to move the children to their bedroom away from the windows. Lance and I gathered up all of our raingear. I don't remember ever being that frightened, but I knew we were in God's hands. The pressure dropped drastically, and my ears popped. The upper window in the lobby blew out, and the attic doors blew off. I think that's probably when the tornado hit and knocked down the cedar tree. This tree is located on the south side right in front of our bedroom windows. The cedar went down at an angle missing our house and our bedroom by inches. When it went down, the tree uprooted a gas line which presented an immediate danger. Lance hurriedly went out to cut off the gas located on the edge of the property. I watched him go with tree limbs flying through the yard. This was the first time I really got a good look at the front yard. The water from the rains was up over the sidewalks and starting to cover the driveway. I had never worried about flooding before since our house is on piers.

When Lance came back, we started trying to save what we could from the lobby since the rain was now coming through the window. He reported that everyone was fine. There was a small amount of water going in the rooms on the east side, and there was a lot of roof damage. Around 2:30-3:00 pm, things began to calm down. The rain slacked off, and the yard began draining. The winds also calmed. The power was still off, so we only had one working phone available. People began coming in to call their families and check on their houses. No one was killed during the hurricane, although later some casualties were reported due to generator problems and power outages.

Most of our guests left that afternoon to try to get back to their own houses. Our power came back on for the lobby and the inn rooms around eleven that evening, but remained off for the house and the apartments until Sunday evening. During that October, it was still very hot. We cleaned the rooms, and gave them to our family and friends who still didn't have power. Most were there only one or two nights.

The cleanup was unbelievable. Many of our trees were slightly leaning and very pruned from the winds. Limbs and leaves were everywhere. Our Hwy. 190 signs were partially missing and definitely not lighted. A couple of weeks after Hurricane Lili, we were just missed with another tornado, and had to begin cleanup all over again. The same thing happened again several weeks later. The "what-ifs" are enormous, but God watched over us and only material things were damaged. Even after four months, L'Acadie Inn still hasn't recovered one hundred percent, we are continuing to work to make it even better. Lance and I have decided, if another hurricane comes through our area, we are closing and heading in the opposite direction. Once in a lifetime is enough for us!

For pictures after the storm, click here.



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