Now a believer
BC neighbors witness strength of Ike
Mary Meaux
The Orange Leader
BRIDGE CITY — While many people left town before the approach of Hurricane Ike, some residents, like Dewayne Romero and his neighbor Gary Lepoint, chose to stay behind.

Their eyewitness accounts of the deadly storm tell of rising water, snakes and the rescue of two people from the top of a mobile home on Inez Street.

As Ike moved inland, Romero and Lapoint watched as the water moved higher and higher on their street, finally covering the top of a chain link fence and nearly covering roadside mailboxes. The water was seeping into homes.

“You could watch the water come down the street,” Romero said.

Lapoint dozed off after 3 a.m. and was awakened by his dogs about 6 a.m. Normally irritated at the barking, this time he was thankful for the early wake-up call from the dogs.

After the storm passed and the water was at its peak, Romero hopped on his jet ski and drove around to survey the damage. A few blocks away, he saw several people stranded on top of a mobile home who were screaming for his attention. He turned around, went to back to the house and came back with an aluminum boat. He was amazed to realize that he could touch the roof of the home where the rescue occurred.

Driving through low-lying areas and ditches, Romero was able to drop the survivors off on higher ground where they would be safe.

“When the water started going down, I breathed a sigh of relief,” Lapoint said.

Both men had sent family members out of town to safety, and since they had never experienced a flood at their home they thought they were safe.

“I’ve been here 36 years, and the water has never risen to my house,” Romero said.

Lapoint remembers the dark hours during Ike’s arrival. The wind was strong, and with gusts enough to shake the older home, Lapoint questioned his decision to stay behind. The Bridge City man has a number of dogs and knew it would be difficult to find a place that would welcome the pets. So, during the storm he took care of the dogs and the dogs took care of him, he said.

“The water made a believer out of me,” Lapoint said. “I’ll leave next time.”