Community helps couple return to normalcy

Posted August 4, 2017 at 12:00 am

The Catholic Commentator

Bill Abbot Jr., 75, of Port Vincent remembers events surrounding the flood as if it were yesterday.

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Bill and Carol Abbott stand in front of their flood damaged home in French Settlement. Photo provided by Bill Abbott Jr.


Abbott, the bookkeeper for St. Joseph Catholic Church in French Settlement, was at work when he learned that things were going to get really bad.

“Here at the office on that Friday (Aug. 12) you heard it was going to be a foot higher than the 1983 flood which surprised me,” he recalled. “By Saturday, it was becoming evident. Sunday we had water coming in the house, so my wife and I left before dark.” Abbott and his wife, Carol, gathered up a few clothes, then walked a quarter of a mile to their son’s boat waiting for them on the road.


The couple stayed with a family member for two months before tackling the reconstruction process. “I wanted to make sure everything was good and dry so we didn’t start rebuilding until October.” The Abbotts received a FEMA trailer in January and now split their daily routine between the trailer and their home. “We can cook in the trailer and we have cots and fans in the house, so we’ve been pretty comfortable.”

Abbott and his wife have done most of the work on the house themselves, along with their son and husbands of co-workers. “My wife is a good painter,” he said. But, it hasn’t been easy. “It’s a mess. I hate to sound so gloomy. It takes away from your routine and the things you enjoy doing. It’s something you don’t want to go through again, even though we had flood insurance. It’s like giving up your free time for a year.”

One thing that did impress him, though, was the outreach from others. “You can’t imagine the help that the church and community received from around the country. One man from Alabama was going to Grand Isle for a fishing trip when he heard about it and he stopped to help and got friends of his in Alabama to help out and donate. It kind of reminds you of how small we are as individuals.”