Rachel Bazile is back in Braithwaite. She’s maintaining the vacant home Hurricane Isaac ripped apart a year ago.
“How can I come back and put money in this house knowing that at any second another hurricane or little tropical disturbance can come and take it all away from me,” says Bazile.
The community that Bazile says was once tight knit no longer exists. Now sidewalks are covered by overgrown grass, blown out windows expose gutted walls, signs warn looters, snakes invade, and the pitter patter of children at the playground has been silenced.
“Driving into the neighborhood you bring back the memories of when everything was alive, and then once you get in here you realize that those homes are empty,” Bazile says, “That’s when it really starts to hit you.”
Russell Wilson lives two miles away in St. Bernard Parish. His daughter lost her home in Braithwaite, and now he’s working on getting the electricity back up and running inside a storage shed.
“You can look around, I mean no one in this community is coming back,” says Wilson, “It’s about a 24 foot wall and that made all difference in the world, you know?”
The flood wall kept residents in St. Bernard dry. On the other side in Plaquemines Parish many residents feel duped by parish leaders.
President Billy Nungesser says his goal is to bring levee protection to all in the parish, saying they’re working on a levee on the east bank, but they’ll need three to five years without a major storm to get the job done. Nungesser says 75% of residents who lived on the east bank and flooded during Isaac aren’t coming back. In Braithwaite residents say only one has returned.
Bazile says her heart is in Plaquemines, but without flood protection she won’t return.