This time last year, crews were deployed along the Sabine River, rescuing residents from rising flood waters. It was a flood that devastated entire communities, swept away homes, and unearthed those in their final resting places.
Despite the scale of this disaster, those in Southwest Louisiana strapped on their work boots and recovered. In a series of special reports, KPLC revisits some of those we met last year as they packed up all their belongings and headed for higher ground.
"It's hard to see something we all worked so hard for just demolished," said Cindy Granger, Office Manager at Niblett's Bluff Park.
When the floodgates were opened on the Sabine River, those in Niblett's Bluff knew it was only a matter of time before the water would rise, filling their facility, sweeping away their park, and endangering the cemetery next door
"I had nine family members that were displaced," said Granger describing the quick work of the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office, "They would tie them off. They go into the water and tie them to either a fence or a tree or something so they couldn't float any further."
The devastation was overwhelming at the park with an estimated $2 million worth of damage to the uninsured facility.
Cabins that were rented out almost every weekend were gone in a flash. A century-old church next door was gutted down to the studs by volunteers and sits an empty shell.
"It was very emotional, but we all live in a community where you play the hand you're dealt," said Granger, "You can sit home and mope about it, or you can get up and do something about it and that's what we chose to do."
With the help of volunteers and donations, Niblett's Bluff Park was able to reopen seven months after the flood. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on repairs thus far, and despite a few details, it's hard to see any trace of the flood.
"We still have some repairs to do. It's been an extremely costly venture. We're not a big money-making park, so everything that we have done has been extremely costly," explained Granger.
She says whatever the funds - most of which come from donations - allows, is what the park will work to rebuilt next.
The goal is to bring in the revenue needed to fully restore the park, while cutting through the red tape of the permitting process allowing them to rebuild. With how far they've come over the past year, it's clear the strength of the community is unwavering.
"For such a horrendous thing to have happened, we didn't have a loss of life in our community. Even amidst the turmoil, there's always something to be thankful for and that's the side of it you have to look at and that's what makes us able to pick up and move forward," said Granger.
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