When the Sabine River flooded in March of 2016, it devastated much of Vernon Parish. Residents are still trying to pick up the pieces and a few organizations are trying to raise money to continue the recovery effort - a full year later.
"I guess I stayed in a state of shock forever," said 83-year-old Jesmine Stevinson, who lost everything in the flood.
"I never thought I was a materialistic person and I'm not one of these who says 'this is mine,' until I heard it was all gone and you better believe I screamed and yelled and hooped and hollered and it was awful; it was terrible to think it. I'm 83 years old and to think that everything I accumulated my whole life was gone."
With over 5 feet of water in her home, Stevinson had no other choice but to move to an apartment in DeRidder with her special needs son, Bill.
"I've lived at that apartment complex a year at the end of this month I don't know the names of a single person there it's just a different way of living and they're not like a community," she said.
She misses her hometown and her home.
"All my friends are here and a whole bunch of the time, we met every Wednesday and had lunch and Bible study here at the house and I miss that so much of the people out here; it's a good place," said Stevinson.
Thanks to District 3 Police Juror, David Fox and the Vernon Parish Long Term Recovery Group, Jesmine and Bill will soon be able to return.
"I didn't know until the day they actually started helping that I was going to get that kind of help. I just thought 'You're on your own. I've got to do this and I've got to do that, but my goodness after coming together, I was absolutely astonished. I couldn't believe that David and Allen and all these people that are helping me. I couldn't believe it but I know it now and it's wonderful; its absolutely unbelievably wonderful," said Stevinson.
The recovery group, started by Fox, took on 104 homes damaged by flooding. They have around 30 more to repair.
"It's amazing how strangers, families kinfolks, come together and do what needs to be done - just an abundance of giving and the generosity has been wonderful, a beautiful thing," said the group's chairwoman Amy Johnson.
She said the aid they have been able to provide has been a blessing. Fox agrees.
"It's an emotional high its awesome money can't make you feel like that it's something that's in your heart and it just makes you feel good and we're proud to be a part of it," said Fox.
However, the group is running low on funds and need donations. It doesn't have to be money; it can be volunteer hours, supplies, or even services.
Fox and Johnson say 100 percent of donations go directly to the victims; there are no administrative costs because of the parent organization, United Way, is matching 50 cents to every dollar raised between now and May 31.
All so there can be more stories like Jesmine and Bill's.
"Me and Bill can sit out here and Bill said, 'Don't it feel good mama? Don't it feel good?' "
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