HOLLY BEACH, La. (KLFY) — People on the Southwest coast of Louisiana are packing to leave ahead of Tropical Storm Laura.
The Cameron Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness issued a mandatory evacuation of the parish starting Monday in anticipation of the dual storms in the Gulf of Mexico.
It includes the lower parish communities south of the Intracoastal Waterway of Johnson Bayou, Holly Beach, Cameron, Creole, Grand Chenier, Big Lake, and areas south of Kelso Bayou Bridge in Hackberry.
“They know what’s coming,” Mike Bott said about his neighbors in Holly Beach. “Even though the storm hasn’t made it to the gulf people are aware of what could happen.”
15 years ago Hurricane Rita completely flattened Holly Beach. It was an opportunity for new people to move in like Mike and JoElla Bott who built here after experiencing Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Mike Bott vacationed in the area since 1964 when there were still restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses on the beach; however, the difference was then he rented.
“It was somebody else’s property, somebody else’s liability, but now this is my home,” explained Mike Bott.
People came together to pack valuables, shutter up, and drive out over the weekend and Monday.
JoElla Bott explained, “They’ve gone through many storms, many difficulties. I don’t think anyone was ready for this one yet, but here it comes.”
Though fewer structures are on Holly Beach than before Rita, the homes are built storm ready with blow away walls on the ground level, and living quarters 20 feet off the ground.
“That’s the whole thing about hurricanes. You build that knowing that,” stated Mike Bott. “I planned for a fifty-year storm: Audrey and Rita, so hopefully I live and total destruction doesn’t come in.”
Governor John Bel Edwards warns Laura could be the most powerful hurricane to hit Louisiana’s coast since Rita with a storm surge of 11 or 12 feet.
The people of Holly Beach don’t want to lose what they built all over again. They say that they’ve prepared the best they can and the rest is in the Lord’s hands.
JoElla added, “We don’t want to leave. No one wants to leave here, but we will if we have to.”