When Hurricane Ida left historical amounts of damage and devastation in its path, some of the state’s more historic structures were irreparably damaged, and according to an article from HoumaToday, Cecil Lapeyrouse’s 107-year-old Chauvin grocery is one of those lost community structures that is particularly tough to see go.
Hurricane Ida, the ravaging Category 4 storm, had 150-mph winds that swept much of Southeastern Louisiana in its path, including (but not limited to) sheds, construction sites, gas tanks, pieces of road and highways, and so much more. It was this type of debris that struck the 107-year-old store, and its roof was pulled off in the massive winds.
One of the more devastating aspects of the loss of Cecil Lapeyrouse’s Grocery is the fact that this single structure, one that has stood tall in Chauvin, Louisiana offering its small community a reliable source of food, produce, and service, has stood by many other disasters for over a century. And it’s that massive period of time that is so striking; as the article highlights, this grocery store stood by as a titan, making it through two world wars, depressions, various storms, and pandemics, yet it was no match for Ida.
Many Louisiana citizens have been seriously affected by the damage from Hurricane Ida, particularly in the Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. If you or someone you know is in need of FEMA resources, please see this resource.
In the weeks that have passed since the storm made landfall, there have been few silver linings sprinkled throughout the recovery process of an entire corner of Louisiana. Some of these linings have been community members banding together, the city of Houma hosting a “Where the Heart Is Hurricane Ida relief event,” and even Louisiana’s food stamp recipients seeing disaster assistance added to the SNAP benefits. Despite these little moments of hope, owner Cecil Lapeyrouse doesn’t see a promising future to the fallen Grocery anytime soon, but he is hopeful of the coming years.
He told reporters, “It’s never going to be like it was, you know? You’ll always see remnants of ‘Oh, that was done for Ida. … It’s never going to be back like it was. I can guarantee you that we would not be able to have any kind of holiday in the shop so it’d be well into next year. I’d like to be able to be open today, you know, but I mean it’s just, it’s not possible that soon, with this, this amount of damage. It’s going to be all right. We’re going to stay with it.”
The interview occurred days after the Lapeyrouses’s neighborhood had its power turned back on, but that valuable resource, like to many others, proved to need extensive electrical work before lights could be turned back on. Even with all these obstacles present, volunteers continue to arrive at the Chauvin Grocery to distribute hot meals, clean water, and ice to a neighborhood in dire need. The publication asked that if any among its readership had the means to help the struggling grocer, they could “reach out to Cecil and Etta Lapeyrouse by email.”
The resilience of a city as impacted and impactful as Chauvin is seen in the members of its community, its facilities, and its population’s pride. Chauvin Grocery not having its spirit inconceivably shaken despite having everything else up-ended is a symbolic promise that Hurricane Ida, while detrimental, didn’t take the Southern Louisiana spirit in its winds. If the community grocery store can eventually make it after all this, then the community can as well.
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