Revisiting the coastal town of Berwick 25 years after Hurricane Andrew

BERWICK, LA (WAFB) - It might be hard for some to imagine, but it has been almost 25 years since Hurricane Andrew devastated parts of Louisiana. It would be known as the worst hurricane for over a decade.

Hurricane Andrew was bearing down on the towns of Berwick and Morgan City in St. Mary Parish days after causing extensive damage in South Florida.

The storm would strike with a fury early in the morning on August 26, 1992. Cedric S. Lafluer was mayor of Morgan City.

"We're not going to allow people to come back," said Lafluer. "We were warned by the National Weather Service that it probably hit us head on."

"We had a lot of damage in the city, but nobody got killed," he added. "And that was the good thing about it."

Ashley Hudson was 8-years-old at the time. She was preparing to be the junior queen of the Shrimp and Petroleum festival that year.  Unfortunately, her reign was postponed due to Andrew.

"My mom got off work early," recalls Hudson. "We went to the grocery store stocking up, that's when she mentioned we were just going to stay.  She's been through hurricanes in the past. So she wasn't too worried about staying at the time."

The storm struck with winds well over 100 miles per hour.

"Certainly some of the heaviest winds from the landfall here in Louisiana have struck the town of Morgan City and we are given the understanding that the damage here is quite extensive," said Scott Pelley.

Berwick Assistant Police Chief Duval Arthur and fellow officers like David Leonard hunkered down in the Berwick fire station.

"We got a call that there was a woman, two small children, and a grandmother were in a house, an apartment actually, that the roof had been ripped off," said Arthur. "We felt obligated. We had to go over there and check on this woman and these kids."

"It was a voluntary mission," Leonard added. "They had limbs going down, they had power poles going down. We had to negotiate through all these obstacles."

Hudson remembers the sounds. She said, "It was like something was flying, pushing."

"They lived in the corner apartment," said Arthur. "Obviously they got all the wind came and hit their apartment. It just tore the roof completely off of it. It was deafening, the sound."

Thankfully, they were rescued just in time.

"When I got outside my face was burning and it was the rain and it was hitting us so hard because of the wind that it was stinging my face," said Hudson. "They picked us up carried us to their police cars in the worst part of the storm. They risked their lives and families to save us. We were very fortunate for them to do what they did."

"I'm just glad to have been involved in their rescue," said Arthur.

Ashley, her 7 year old sister Heather, mom and grandmother made it to safety. And now, 25 years later, this story has an interesting twist.

"She's a stunt actress now, today," said Arthur. "And I'm sure she, she may have gotten her start thinking about what she went through in that hurricane."

"Andrew was definitely more dangerous and the reason why is when I do stunts everything we do is either prepped, it's trained, it's in controlled situations, so we try to know everything that could go wrong before," said Hudson.

So next time you're at the movies that stunt double may have survived one of the worst hurricanes in Louisiana history.

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