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Longtime Louisiana bait shop destroyed by Ida, owner has no plans to rebuild

“To me, this was a sign from God that it’s done for me here," Hayes said. "This is always going to be my home. I think I have a different calling in my life..."

LEEVILLE, La. — In Leeville, evidence of Ida’s destruction remains visible everywhere. 

After the storm brought 150 mph winds and 10 to 15 feet of storm surge, there is little left in the small town, about 80 miles south of New Orleans.

Gail Serigny Hayes started running Gail’s Bait Shop in the 70s. When we interviewed her in June, she was proud to show the mural of her father, who ran the store before her. 

Since Ida, the mural and the entire shop is no more, just mere bricks sitting on the side of the road.

“I am heartbroken. I lost my livelihood, I've lost everything that I've done all my life,” Hayes said. 

To make matters worse, Hayes’ home across the road was also destroyed. A mirror engraved with the Twin Towers and New York City skyline is the only thing left.

“The whole thing stayed up," Hayes said." It’s 41 years old, that mirror, but I can't get it down anyways.” 

The debris piles tell the story of devastation, but Hayes said she seeing memories of a life that have become a thing of the past. 

She has no plans to rebuild, the cost would be just too much, she said.  

“If I would have had something left to come back to, a start, I would have," Hayes said. "But with nothing left and no insurance, I mean, it’s almost impossible.”

Many businesses here were destroyed, some were still standing and others were being rebuilt, but Hayes said she knows the community will never quite be the same. 

This storm came less than a year after Hurricane Zeta hit, and this time, many Leeville residents said it’s too much to come back from.

“It will be a ghost town," Hayes said. "There’s a handful that may come back, but as far as bigger businesses and even some of the smaller businesses —after putting in all the money and time just going through Hurricane Zeta— the majority just don’t want to come back.” 

So as Hayes literally picks up the pieces of her life, she plans to make a new one for herself in Houma, she said.

Her faith is what is getting her through, she said.

“To me, this was a sign from God that it’s done for me here," Hayes said. "This is always going to be my home. It's going to always be what I love, but I think I have a different calling in my life at this time."

If you’d like to help Hayes as she rebuilds her life there’s a GoFundMePage here -- https://www.gofundme.com/f/gails-saving-grace.

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