September 1st, 2008
08:00 AM ET

I've been here before

Ed Lavandera
CNN Correspondent

I've been here before.

When I saw that bridge over the Vermilion River entering downtown Abbeville. It all came rushing back to me.

Three years ago Abbeville (Population 13,000 in Vermilion Parish west of New Orleans) sat on the edge of disaster in the wake of Hurricane Rita, all the small towns around here were flooded out by that hurricane. I stood on the back porch of the Riverfront Louisiana Grill restaurant with Anderson Cooper reporting on the toll the storm had taken.

When the broadcast ended that night, it was close to midnight, and there were no hotel rooms within a hundred of miles. We were all exhausted and the idea of sleeping in the car was becoming an unpleasant reality.

Out of nowhere (at least it seemed that way to me) an Abbeville resident stopped by and asked us where we were staying that night. When she found out we didn't have a place to sleep, she invited the entire CNN team to her home. We're talking about 25 exhausted, hungry and stinky people. But her family welcomed us with open arms and even fired up an unforgettable pot of gumbo. We slept on the floor, couches and chairs.

Three years later, I'm back in Abbeville hoping I could see the house and express my gratitude again. But Abbeville is a ghost town. One of the only people we found was 83-year-old Barbara Weidert and her daughter. Both Katrina evacuees. Floodwaters destroyed their homes and they ended up living in Abbeville. Now another hurricane is threatening their lives again.

Filed under: Ed Lavandera • Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I hope these ladies will be ok and come through the storm safely but I really wish (especially given their age) that they had evacuated with the others. Did Abbeville not provide evacuation means for those who didn't have their own way out?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 1, 2008 at 9:12 am |
  2. Ed

    Hi Anderson:
    You CNN reporters down in the fury of Gustav are amazing. Talk
    about showing the action by being in the centre of it. Take care of
    yourself and don't get hurt.
    I'm writing from up in Calgary, thousands of miles north of you in
    Canada where it is completely nice and quiet.


    September 1, 2008 at 8:32 am |