Hurricane Laura stories: Roy


The high winds of Hurricane Laura uprooted a pine tree in 86-year-old Roy’s back yard in Sulphur, Louisiana, crushing the back of his home.

Pieces of Roy’s model airplane collection he was able to salvage.

Rain poured in ruining walls, floors and most of his model airplane collection. This wasn’t just any collection. This was handcrafted, made over the span of seventeen years on various oil rigs off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana where Roy served as a driller. During his time offshore, he’d watch the airplanes high overhead, memorizing their details and using scraps and spare wood on the rig to build miniature models of what he’d seen, capturing everything down to the finest details on the wings. He has a photographic memory.

The loss of his meticulously crafted models is only one of Roy’s losses related to his home. It also held a lifetime of memories of raising his two girls. It’s where his wife died in 2000. This home was where he retreated when the pandemic hit in early 2020.

Like many in the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, Roy lost a lot. His home damage made it too unsafe for him to stay, so he moved in with family as he tried to figure out the FEMA process.

The damage done to the bathroom in Roy’s home.

His initial award from FEMA didn’t come near what was needed to cover his damage. When the inspector came out, he walked around the house and estimated 25% total damage to the home. Roy’s niece, Sharon, there to meet him and help Roy with paperwork, urged the inspector to go inside since no one currently lived in the house. COVID-19 precautions prevented that, the inspector explained. His guessed-estimate stood.

Roy stands in the back of his home.

Sharon and Roy connected with SBP and we helped them appeal his initial FEMA award of $14,000, increasing his total award to $34,000. We are also rebuilding Roy’s home. CITGO, which has generously supported long-term disaster recovery via grant funding and volunteer support, has made long-term home rebuilding possible in Southwest Louisiana. Their investment has enabled us to support residents like Roy.

The stump of the tree that destroyed Roy’s home. Neighbors helped him pull it off.

Roy is fortunate to have a caring family who advocates and fights for him. Not everyone does and that’s why our work is so important: We help those who are most vulnerable fight for what they deserve to preserve the homes and lives that they have built for themselves, their families and future generations.

Christopher Flavelle, writing for The New York Times, shared some of Roy’s story — and SBP’s ongoing FEMA appeals work in southwest Louisiana — in a piece addressing FEMA inequalities. It’s an important read, one that we hope will inspire change and innovation within our country’s disaster recovery system.



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