Reaud Family Foundation provides Christmas to Deweyville flood victims

Reaud Family Foundation provides Christmas to Deweyville flood victims

Charitable event reaches milestone through annual ministry

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In March, when the Sabine River at Deweyville flooded, it broke the unofficial highest river mark set over 130 years ago and dramatically impacted the lives of an entire Southeast Texas town.

More than 5,000 homes were flooded in the area, including parts of Louisiana along the Sabine River, according to media reports. The flooding caused by torrential rains and the release of water from Toledo Bend swallowed up the homes of Deweyville families, most losing everything.

“Seventy-five percent of Deweyville was destroyed in March in the Toledo Bend flood,” said Jon Reaud, executive director to the Reaud Family Foundation, “and these folks are still not back in their homes. They’re in FEMA trailers building their homes. Every penny that they have, they’re having to buy sheetrock, insulation and stuff for their homes. And the churches that usually help these people, they’re not there anymore. They’re wiped out.”

Not only did Deweyville children lose their churches and homes, but they lost their school as well.

Deweyville Elementary School on State Highway 272 was hit especially hard.

“We lost our school,” said Deweyville Elementary School Principal Lajuan Addison. “Our entire elementary school had 4 feet of water in it. We had to move all the teachers and students to a temporary facility by the high school.”

Families from Mauriceville, Buna and Devil’s Pocket who attend the school were also displaced when the school flooded, Jon Reaud pointed out.

While Deweyville Elementary students tried to move on with their lives and return to some state of normalcy after the devastating disaster, many families knew they would have to make sacrifices.

“You don’t know how many people told me that they were going to have to skip Christmas,” Addison said.

But thanks to the Reaud Family Foundation, many of those children who thought they would have no Christmas at all in 2016 will have what will most likely be one of the best of their lives.

Fifty Deweyville children were selected by Addison and the Reaud Family Foundation to attend the 18th annual Bicycles and Bibles event Saturday, Dec. 17, and received not only bicycles and Bibles but a plethora of other gifts.

“This is the first time that we’ve brought Deweyville into the program,” Jon Reaud said. Children like 7-year-old Keeligh Jenkins, who lost all her toys when her grandparent’s storage house on their property flooded.

“Our home got water up to the floors of it, but our storage house that had all her toys in it and it got destroyed,” said Brenda Wofford, Keeligh’s grandmother. “All of her stuffed animals and dolls and things of that sort were lost.”

“It’s been rough to see the whole town wiped out,” added Billy Wofford, Keeligh’s grandfather. The couple said the donations from the program would be a great help to them as they work to repair their home and restore their property.

Slade Clasby said his trailer got 5 and a half feet of water in it, and he lost everything. His 8-year-old daughter Madison, who lost her toys and bicycle, was selected to attend the Bicycles and Bibles event.

“I’m a single father taking care of her,” Clasby said. “This is a real blessing.”

In addition to the 50 families that attended the event, the Reaud Family Foundation visited Deweyville Elementary’s temporary facility Tuesday, Dec. 20, and passed out an additional 50 bikes, Bibles, jackets, and other items from the event to Deweyville families.

“These are hardworking people that get a paycheck every week,” Jon Reaud said, “but every bit of that they’re using to try to rebuild. Daddy’s doing it every day when he comes home from work. They’ve got a 30-foot FEMA trailer and Daddy works on the home until 2 in the morning and then gets up and goes back to work at the refinery at 6.”

Tiffeny Landry of Deweyville lost her home in the flood and received items from the Reaud Family Foundation’s visit to Dewevyille Elementary. Landry has two daughters and a son.

“This is going to help us out tremendously,” said Landry, fighting back her tears. “We’re extremely thankful.” Landry said she hopes to volunteer at Bicycles and Bibles in 2017.

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