A Sentimental Setting
08/02/2012 10:20AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier
Meghan Duhon Broussard grew up in this charming Acadian-style house located just south of Hwy. 14 near Delcambre. For her bridal portraits, she posed on the front steps in the exact spot that her parents were wed 26 years ago. The home was severely damaged by storm surges caused by Hurricanes Rita and Ike.
Gallery: Meghan Duhon Broussard [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
Bridal Portraits Honor The Past And Embrace The Future
By Cheryl Robichaux / Photos by Dawn Earles Photography
When you grow up in a home it’s hard to see it go because of all the special memories. As wedding photojournalist Dawn Earles shot bridal portraits of the platinum blonde, she captured a range of raw emotions from melancholy to euphoria. The setting was the bride’s home, severely damaged after Hurricanes Rita and Ike.
The bride, Meghan Duhon, grew up in a charming Acadian-style house that was well over 100 years old when her grandparents purchased it. Located at 4216 East Campbell Road in New Iberia, the home is just south of Hwy. 14 near the Delcambre Bridge. It was inundated with water twice and is still standing after seven years. The crepe myrtle trees bloom every year near the white picket fence, and from a distance one wouldn’t realize the extent of the destruction inside.
Meghan’s grandparents, Fernand Landry, Sr. and Patsy Landry, purchased the house when they were first married and had it moved from a dairy farm on the Jefferson Island Road to its present location. The roof was split from the rest of the house and it was transported in pieces at a cost of $9,000. Patsy was talented in the designing department and she restored the house with one “do-it-yourself” project after another. She installed wallpaper featuring Victorian cherubs and amassed a collection of angel statues and figurines. With 3,700 square feet of living space, the five-bedroom two-story home was filled with antique furniture. Meghan’s favorite piece was a beautiful antique red chaise lounge in the parlor.
As three generations of women gather in a raised camp next door to the old house, they relive the memories. Meghan, her mother Cherdell Duhon, and her aunt Mary Comeaux can’t contain their excitement because their story will finally be told.
When Meghan was in the 2nd grade, her uncle and godfather Keith Landry, Jr. passed away in a tragic car accident near the Delcambre Bridge. He was a passenger in the vehicle. “After he passed way, the house seemed so empty without him,” says his sister Cherdell, “so Meghan, myself and my husband, Brent moved in upstairs to help take care of my parents.”
There were many happy times in the home and Meghan eventually lettered in six sports while attending Delcambre High School. When she was a junior, her grandmother passed away from lung cancer on June 8,2004 at the age of 58. Patsy fought cancer with chemotherapy treatments and radiation in an effort to live long enough to see Meghan graduate from DHS, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The next year in September 2005, Hurricane Rita’s storm surge crept into many south Louisiana homes, dumping over six feet of water in them. It came right after Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans and most of the nation didn’t hear much about Rita—the “forgotten storm.’
The three women recall the harrowing moments when they realized they couldn’t go home after the storm, and much of what they owned was now lost. Cherdell and her husband Brent actually rode into the house in a boat through the front door. He wore waders to walk about the home but they were soaked because the water was over his waist.
“My mother’s jewelery was floating everywhere,” says Cherdell with a sigh. “The film and photos from all of Meghan’s sporting events, the antique red chaise lounge was stuck in the fireplace and chairs were thrown through the windows. We couldn’t believe it. That was the day my dad’s heart was broken. He’d lost his son, his wife, and now his home.”
The family moved into a borrowed camper which was parked in a relative’s driveway. Once the water receded, they were able to enter the home to retrieve their belongings upstairs which hadn’t gotten soaked. Strangely enough while most of the rooms smelled musty, there was a distinct scent of roses in Patsy’s bedroom. The room smelled pleasant and fresh, as if Patsy were still there watching over them.
“For Homecoming Court my senior year, I had to get ready in the camper,” remembers Meghan. “We lived in that borrowed camper until the FEMA trailer came in months later.”
Meghan’s great-grandmother Louise Sonnier lived in a raised apartment next door to the family home. This camp-style apartment was built 30 years ago at 12 feet above the ground, so thankfully it didn’t take in any water. After Hurricane Rita came, Louise decided to move into town, away from the Delcambre Canal. Meghan moved into the apartment with her parents and grandfather, Fernand.
As their neighbors lifted their soaked homes and restored them, the Landry house remained as it was. Windows were broken and wasps and bees moved in. According to Cherdell, “Meghan’s grandfather qualified for governmental assistance with the lift, but because we were live-ins at the time, we fell through the cracks of the system. The floors were split apart and it would cost $250,000 just to lift the house, let alone repair the damage inside.”
As the family rebuilt their life in the apartment, they adjusted to the situation as best they could. However their two Schnauzers, Lexie and Belle, didn’t take it so well and were confused. They kept going to the door of the old house waiting to be let in, thinking that’s where they belonged instead of in the apartment.
“You don’t realize what it’s like unless you’ve been through it. The animals were affected just like we were,” says Cherdell.
Fernand developed diabetes and passed away on March 3, 2008. Six months later Hurricane Ike brought its storm surge to southwest Louisiana,impacting many of the same people who lost so much with Hurricane Rita. The old home was filled with water again, and the possessions they’d manage to salvage from the first storm were ruined. It was a double blow to Meghan and her family, however their faith and tenacity pulled them through it.
For Meghan’s bridal portraits this year, the front porch was pressure washed, the fireplace mantel cleaned and polished, hedges were trimmed and the garden was beautiful, exactly the way it’s always been. She posed on the front steps of the old house in the exact spot that her own parents were wed 26 years ago on July 19, 1986.
Amid the debris in the house, Meghan stood near the fireplace mantel with photos of her godfather, grandmother and grandfather. In the garden she smiled near an angel statue overlooking the pond. This angel was left anonymously at the site where her godfather, Kevin, passed away in the accident 15 years ago. It, too, has special meaning for her.
Meghan Duhon and Dustin Broussard were married May 4, 2012 at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Delcambre. Fr. Thomas Voorhies officiated at the nuptial Mass. “He officiated at four family funerals including Meghan’s godfather, grandmother, grandfather and most recently her greatgrandmother,” says Cherdell, “he’s apart of our life and knows our family’s history so well.’ Although he is the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Scott, he came back to marry her.
What a joyous celebration it was! A reception for family and friends was held at La Louisiane Banquet Hall and there were so many people who kept coming in, they stopped counting at 562 people. Meghan says with a laugh, “Now the owners of La Louisiane know about how many people the building can hold without it being a fire hazard.”
Cherdell hopes that eventually someone will take an interest in the old house, move it to higher ground and restore it. Several homes in the area could not be saved and were demolished. In this ancestral home, the walls are constructed of cypress and are not insulated so there is no mold inside. In the future Meghan and Dustin plan to build their own house on the property near the home she grew up in. This place has sentimental value for her, and that is priceless.