Erath rebounds 10 years after Rita
Our Lady of Lourdes (above) in 2005 and
(above) Bobcat Stadium looked like a lake the morning the storm surge arrived in Erath on Sept. 25. (below) Today the stadium is in great shape and has been repaired.
The photo (above)) taken by Robert Vincent on September 25, 2005 of Dozier Elementary flooding. The photo was taken from Highway 14 in Erath. Dozier Elementary has a flood wall today (below).
The front of Erath High School looks completely different from 2005 (above) and 2015 (below).
ERATH - Ten years ago, Erath was a community in crisis. The winds of Hurricane Rita had made landfall overnight on September 24, 2005 near Sabine Pass, Texas.
Erath seemed to have been spared the brunt of Rita’s wrath, until reports of flooding in Henry and Delcambre began to reach the people in Erath.
Erath Mayor John Earl LeBlanc, who was an alderman at the time, still remembers the news of flooding reaching Erath City Hall.
“We began hearing reports of flooding in the low lying areas in the early morning hours, before daybreak. None of us could imagine that the storm surge would reach Erath,” recalled LeBlanc.The unimaginable did happen.
Water began to creep into the town by the morning of September 25. By the afternoon, the town was covered by a murky mix of salt water that was pushed into our town by Rita’s storm surge.
The devastation left behind by the surge was heartbreaking and overwhelming.
Very few homes in Erath were spared of the flood waters. Each of the three schools were covered with mud and salt water. The football field looked more like Bobcat Lake than Bobcat Stadium, covered with three foot of water.
Some doubted whether Erath could recover from this overwhelming devastation. However, the majority of residents knew that Erath was their home. There was no other place they wanted to live. The recovery process began as soon as the flood waters receded, and it hasn’t slowed since 2005.
George Dupuis, the mayor at the time, was overheard many times telling people that not only would Erath survive, but the town would come back stronger and better.
Ten years later, Dupuis’ prediction has proven true. Most homes in the town have been rebuilt or repaired.
Many have been lifted so that they will be spared from future flooding.
The Erath schools have not only survived, but are thriving. Erath schools have consistently ranked at the top of schools in the state every year since the storm. Erath High School ranks as one of the top five high schools in the state every year, even being ranked number one for two consecutive years. The work and dedication of people of Erath over the past ten years has ensured that their community will not be washed away by Rita’s destruction.
While the storm hit Texas on Sept. 24, the storm surge made landfall in Vermilion Parish on Sept. 25 . Friday will mark the 10 year anniversary of the destructive storm surge. The anniversary falls on homecoming day in Erath.
“Our citizens will remember the surge in its own unique way,” said Councilman Robert Vincent. “People will be returning to Erath from near and far. Homecoming visitation will take place in the very halls and classrooms that were covered in muddy water. The homecoming court will be featured at a community pep rally in the gym that ten years ago was a flooded mess.”
Vincent would like to use Friday’s homecoming as a way to welcome everyone back.
“This homecoming will not only be a time to celebrate our football team and our schools, but also a time to celebrate Erath’s resilience,” said Robert. “Erath has faced many tragedies in the town’s 116 year history. Each time, we have recovered and come back stronger. The year of 2005 will always be remembered as a sad time in Erath’s history. However, the resurgence that resulted from Rita should always be celebrated. That is exactly what the people of Erath will do this week – celebrate”