On March 21 Robert Plaisance and his wife were in a closest praying that they would live through the morning.
They were huddled inside because outside a tornado was ripping off their metallic roof, blowing out their large front living room window and shaking the house.
The event lasted 10 to 15 seconds but it was probably the longest 15 seconds of both of their lives.
“It took only 10 seconds to destroy everything you worked your life for,” said Robert Tuesday morning.
He said the noise sounded like jet engines raring up.
When things calmed down, the Plasiances crawled out their house to look at the damage. Rain was pouring into their home because their roof was gone. Their front window was blown out.
About an hour before the tornado did its damage, Robert was awakened by the wind and he had gotten dressed and began to prepare for a possible tornado. He heard there was a possible chance of a tornado making its way to Gueydan from White Lake area.
The Plaisance family lives on Hwy. 91 which is located south of Gueydan. Robert is no stranger to being scared by a tornado.
When he was 11 years old and living with his parents a mile south of where he lives today, a tornado ripped off his family’s roof with them in the house. Every since then, he hates bad weather.
Because of his trauma when he was young, Robert got dressed that morning and grabbed a cordless flashlight in case of an emergency.
Then around 4:30 a.m., his front window blew out and that is when he encouraged his wife it was time to move into the hall closet.
Since that traumatic morning, the Plaisances and others who live on Hwy. 91 have been cleaning and repairing their damaged property. Robert said the next day there were close to 40 people in his yard and home helping him repair the damage.
His roof is covered with tar paper to prevent more rain from getting into the house. He and his wife now live in a camper parked next to his house. The camper belongs to his brother.
He predicts it will be another four to six months before he gets back in his house because of all the work that needs to be done. Robert said he is grateful that no one in his family was hurt because when he and his wife were in the closest praying, the thought of dying crossed their minds. “You just never know,” he said.
Their house suffered wind and rain damage. His house was one of the worst on La. 91. His neighbor across the street had no damage.
Farther south on La. 91, Judy Blanchard was awakened to the strong winds outside. She went into the kitchen and heard a loud boom sound and then the window in her utility room blew out. Bark from a broken tree began flying into her house.
At the time all this was occurring, Blanchard was on the phone with her sister Margaret Freeland, who lives about 100 yards on the side of Blanchard’s house. Freeland was awakened minutes earlier by her weather radio that goes off in her house when there is a tornado alert. Freeland, who is in her 70s, got dressed and called her sister. The winds picked up, shaking the house, and knocking Freeland into her bathtub. She was not injured. When the winds stopped, her wooden house was knocked off the blocks and pushed north about three feet.
The Blanchard’s 50-year-old wooden barn was blown away. Items were found a mile away.
That day, cleaning up began.
“We had family and friends over. They were liking working bees,” said Blanchard. The Blanchard house was not damaged other than the blown window. Her explanation is that the tornado bounced up, affecting some buildings and not others.
Her sister’s home still sits off its pillars. The tin from the blown away barn has been cleaned and picked up by scavengers or the Vermilion Parish Police Jury.
Freeland is living with a sister until insurance figures out what do with her house.
“We are fortunate no one got hurt,” said Blanchard.
Read more: VermilionToday.com - Gueydan residents rebuilding after tornado a week ago