Isaac: One year later

St. John Parish shortly after Hurricane Isaac.
St. John Parish shortly after Hurricane Isaac.
St. John Parish today.
St. John Parish today.

ST. JOHN PARISH, LA (WAFB) - One year ago people in St. John the Baptist Parish were being rescued from their homes.

Hurricane Isaac packed a punch many of them were not expecting nor prepared for.

At first glance it appears life in River Forest subdivision has returned to normal. People are present and signs of rebuilding are slowly starting to disappear. But it's also clear there's plenty of work to be done.

"Never did I think a hurricane would come and affect us. We've lived here 25 years and never had water in our driveway past our mailbox," Andrew Revall said.

Hurricane Isaac changed everything.

Revall and his family had to be rescued by boat from the second story window of their Laplace home. But the nightmare started long before. The Revalls woke up to water rising in their home and no way out.

"It was just total chaos not knowing if we were going to be trapped there, not knowing if we were going to be on the roof for a helicopter rescue. I felt like its Hurricane Katrina all over again," Revall said.

Andrew's friend, Lloyd Kerlec, who lives down the street, was there too watching from the same window.

"I kept thinking about my parents and with the cell phones down I couldn't get in touch with them. It was a scary feeling," Kerlec said.

St. John Parish Sheriff Michael Tregre recalled the panic in the voices of the people who did get calls through to first responders that day.

"We will never forget the residents of River Forest subdivision calling 911 to report wild animals on their patios such as deer. I never had a call like that in my 25 years of law enforcement," Sheriff Tregre said.

Revall and his neighbor said they will never forget how it felt to see rescue boats motoring through their subdivision.

"Knowing there was a way out and that we were going to be able to escape from this was total relief," Revall said.

Revall said a few days later he and his family returned home to assess the damage but they couldn't do much until the water receded. When it did, they went to work.

"With all of the resources being limited we had to do a lot of it ourselves," Revall said.

A lot of folks did. The Revalls sold their home but Kerlec and his family are still living in River Forest. While a lot of his neighbors have moved and life here has changed, Kerlec said he is focused on what's important.

"It puts things in perspective, going through the storm you lose your possessive things but family comes first," Kerlec said.

A year has passed but the images and the memories they evoke are still sharp.

"It's still unsettling and it could happen again at any time," Revall said.

It's a reality they won't soon forget.

Parish officials are calling on Congress to grant construction dollars to begin work on a better levee system.

They meet next on September 17, 2013.

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