Thanksgiving this year should be more ‘thoughtful” than most.

Many average Americans take it for granted. It’s just another holiday to spend with family (whether you want to or not), eat till your stuffed and watch parades and football games in between naps.

Hurricane Ike wiped out so much of people’s lives that even in their despair, they are grateful for what is left.

The Record checked in with public officials and ‘just plain folks’ to get their take in this special day in this extraordinary year.

At today’s ground breaking in Bridge City, Janelle Sehon,

executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce was almost to choked up for words. “Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes. “It makes me want to cry,” she said. “I don’t think I can talk about it.”

Her assistant, Evelyn Brandon said, “We should give thanks for everything we still have. We should be thankful for our families and that everybody made it out safe and their OK.”

“I have not started rebuilding my house,” said Sehon. “We still have a couple of back walls to take out that were in the back part, but we did get a mobile home…on Halloween,” she said. “It’s a lot better, we’re right beside our house. We are going to start rebuilding after Christmas…we just need a break.”

“We should be grateful for what we have,” said Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “I know we’ve lost a lot, but we will recover from it, so let’s be thankful our lives were spared…and we will put our homes back together.

Congressman Kevin Brady has been a frequent visitor to our area in the last few months, today he welded a shovel at the new FEMA mobile home park. “There is a lot to be thankful for this year, it’s been a hard year, but Bridge City survived and I think it’s gonna get rebuilt bigger and better than ever,” he said. “In Orange County…folks have pulled together, our churches, just neighbors and yeah, we’ve gotten help from Washington, but most of our help has come from right here at home. For that and our troops who we are always praying for, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

“I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving,” said Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte. “I know it’s tough on a lot of people. It’s hard to get the holiday spirit when you don’t have a home to live in,” he said. “I hope people will get together with there friends and relatives. Take in those that don’t have a home. If you don’t have family local, go to the Community Center.” The Church of Christ will be serving a traditional holiday meal 1-4 p.m., Thanksgiving day at the Bridge City Orangefield Community Center. Meals are served daily Monday through Friday.

Kevin LeBoeuf of West Orange says he’s thankful to finally get his FEMA trailer. It was delivered three weeks ago, then he had to wait for utility hookups. He and his wife got the keys to it this week.

“I’m thankful that my family is back home here and not scattered to the four winds,” he says. His family evacuated to Dallas, then had to go to Tennessee Sept. 15 when Kevin’s father passed away. “We plan to buy another house,” he says. “Right now we’re just waiting on insurance and all that. Hopefully we’ll be moved in somewhere by the first of the year.” 

Pam Crew of Mauriceville didn’t receive a lot of damage in north Orange County, but was nonetheless affected by Ike as a member of the Orange Lions Club. After some discussion, and with damaged fairgrounds and equipment, the group elected to go ahead with its annual carnival with a six-week delay. The Lions offered free admission this year to honor hard-hit residents.

“I’m glad it’s over, but I’m glad we did it,” she says. “It was rough getting things set up, and then we had electrical problems and other things. But I think we might have just gotten the kinks worked out for next year.” Despite the free entry, she says, the club and surrounding Lions organizations that took part were able to raise funds through food and game sales.

Finally, Mr. and Mrs. K.J. Prosperie of Bridge City expressed their thanks in a letter sent to The Record Newspapers this week.

“It is a terrible experience to see many or all of our belongings in huge piles in our front yards for trash pickup,” they wrote. “Or to see the inside of our homes torn out down to the studs, or to look down our streets at our neighbors’ homes and belongings all messed up. It all makes our hearts sink inside. But seeing all of you come and help us raised our hearts and hopes. You were and are blessings in our lives.

The letter continued, “It was relief to see so many peace officers, who came from near and far, drive by regularly fending off looters.

Thank you all! We had no electricity, but before long, we saw the many electric trucks from near and far working hard and steady to restore our electricity. Thank you all! For all who were at the intermediate school passing out precious food, water and ice, thank you all! To all the many church volunteers who came from far and near to cut trees, haul out ruined items from homes, tear out wet carpets, floors and walls; and give us clothes and shoes, feed us and the many other things you helped us do. Thank you all! To the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Churches of Christ and the many, many others who have been providing meals to us: thank you all! And to our neighbors over the bridge who came over for Mid-County Kindness, thank you all! To everyone who came to help us in any way, thank you all.”

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.