Rocking the block

Aaron Looney
Craig Templet signs up for the benefit raffle held Sunday during a block party event in Rockford Place Subdivision in Duplessis. Proceeds from the event went to help Rockford Place residents Todd and Dayna Traigle, who had to demolish their home after it took severe damage from Hurricane Gustav earlier this month.

DUPLESSIS – When Todd and Dayna Traigle had a tree fall through their house during Hurricane Gustav, the event could have marked a significant change in their lives that forced them to find a new home.

However, their neighbors in Rockford Place Subdivision and various area sponsors don’t plan on letting the disaster take the Traigles away from them.

Residents of the subdivision, located off Hwy. 621, banded together and held a block part event Sunday across from the couple’s lot on Troy Duplessis Road to raise money to help the Traigles with demolition costs and to help build a new home on the same lot.

Dayna Traigle said that while the couple does have homeowners’ insurance on the house, there is still an out-of-pocket cost of around $11,000 for tree removal and part of the cost to demolish their former house.

No one was injured in the event, but a large tree fell through the Traigles’ home and rendered it a total loss.

“This is unbelievable,” Dayna Traigle said of the event. “This was a total surprise to us. We were floored. They’re just so helpful and have been there for us since this happened. It’s going to help us so much.”

Donna Adams, one of the co-organizers of the event who lives across the street from the Traigles, said that the motivation to help came almost immediately after the storm event.

“We knew that we had to do something to help them,” Adams said. “We didn’t know that this event would just take on a life of its own.”

The Traigles said that neighbors quickly came to their aid when they saw the level of damage their house incurred.

“They were out there as soon as the storm passed,” Dayna Traigle said of her neighbors. “They were helping us to go through the house to recover what we could, especially photos and things that you can’t replace.”

“I had one neighbor that went into a room that I just wasn’t able to go into,” Todd Traigle said.

The Traigles said that after the storm, their neighbors rallied around them to bring them supplies such as food, ice and other necessities.

Adams said that even with the damages suffered on his home, Todd Traigle still made himself available to help his neighbors recover after the hurricane.

“Even with a tree through his house, Todd was still helping others in the neighborhood to repair damages,” Adams said. “It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that.”

Visitors Sunday were able to purchase hamburgers, jambalaya, sweets and other food items, with he proceeds going to help the Traigles. The event also included music by The Lil’ Bayou Band, face painting for children, a washers game tournament and raffle to benefit the family.

Items for the raffle were donated from neighbors and other area sponsors.

“There was even one neighbor who I’d never met before who donated a $700 rifle to the auction,” Todd Traigle said. “That really moved me and showed me just how much people here are willing to help others.”

Dayna Traigle added that neighbors have offered their services in building cabinets or other home amenities either for free or at cost of materials to add to the new home.

Parish Council Chairman Pat Bell, who represents the area and attended the event Sunday, said that the event shows the true nature of Ascension Parish residents.

“People here are so giving and so helpful,” Bell said. “I passed through this neighborhood right after Gustav and it was a mess, I saw the Traigles’ home and felt awful for them. But their neighbors pulled together and wouldn’t let this tragedy ruin their lives. This is an excellent event for a wonderful cause. I’m so proud of everyone involved in this.”

The Traigles have lived in the quiet subdivision for 20 years and never planned on moving away after losing their house.

“One of my co-workers asked me, ‘Wouldn’t it just be easier to buy a house instead of rebuilding?’” Traigle said. “In a way, it would be. But I couldn’t leave here. I love this subdivision and this community. I don’t want to live anywhere else.”

“Building another house here may not be the best thing in terms of appraisal value, but we love it here and there’s no way we’re leaving,” Dayna Traigle said. “Its a great sense of community. Everyone is there for everyone. We have the best neighbors and community you could possibly ask for. We thank them all for doing this for us.”

Jared Lemoine tosses a washer Sunday during play in a washer tournament during the Traigle family benefit event, while Chase Rayburn watches.