By Dex Duet, Features editor
Hurricane Ida’s destruction put the bayou at a standstill. It halted the overall sense of normalcy, especially for business owners who had to deal with damages to both homes and businesses.
Brenda Dardar Robichaux, the owner of Chez Felicite, a local wedding venue and bed and breakfast, was grateful to have her business after Ida. This wasn’t just because she had a building where she could do business again, but the building also became their new home.
And now, with wedding season in full swing, she is back in business, working out of the house she is living in. The grounds have been modified to accommodate their new lifestyle.
“Our clients suffered devastation to varying degrees,” she says. “They lost their homes and no longer had the resources to be able to host their weddings or events they had planned. We felt that we wanted to help the community, so we gave full refunds to anyone who could no longer host their weddings because of Ida’s devastation.”
Another business owner, Janabeth Daigle, owner of Le Bijou Hair Salon and Day Spa, suffered a major hit from Ida. She lost her entire roof, and part of the ceiling caved in, forcing her to gut part of the business, rendering it unusable. With half of her business destroyed, Daigle is currently operating out of one of the last rooms left in the building.
Her friends that she evacuated to came to the rescue after the storm to help her get back on her feet as soon as they could. She recalls the help by saying,
“My friends from Mississippi came the following weekend. Six men, two women, three trucks, a trailer, a four-wheeler, chainsaws, a heart of gold, and christ-like people. They made it happen in seven hours and drove five hours back.”
Acting quickly, Daigle started moving furniture and belongings around to prevent any further damage. She had help from the community and her loyal customers. Daigle, being a former teacher and cancer survivor, finds herself having to shift her mindset from giving to receiving.
“When you’re a giver, you want to help people all the time, but when you have to sit back and receive, it’s not so easy,” she says. “It’s like inhaling and exhaling; part of giving is receiving. You cant an exhale without an inhale. Someone has to be a receiver for someone to be able to give.”
Some businesses are vacant because the owner’s home’s damage forced them to leave.
Divine Martin, a former Houma resident, recently moved to Colorado after his apartment complex was damaged by Ida. He left behind his family-owned business, Trap Seafood, and Wings, which has yet to open back up. Trap seafood is located on the east side of Houma and serves up authentic cajun meals. The restaurant has a small amount of damage and is undergoing renovation.
“We’re currently in the process of remodeling and repairing what was damaged so we can open for business hopefully in the first quarter of next year,” he says. “We’ve been out of business since the storm hit on August 29th, so we’re eager to get back to what we do best, which is serving our #FoodForTheCulture back to Houma, LA.”