With nearly four feet of water inside his home, Dennis Perret felt like he was reliving a nightmare when he returned after some of the waters receded last August.
He echoes the sentiment many flood victims have felt over the past year: forgotten. Perret says he’d like to ask Governor John Bel Edwards if he feels he has helped enough during flood recovery to justify his job.
“You’re over this whole state, and yet, you have people in your own backyard (Baton Rouge), who still have not been home,” Perret says. “Do you not care to find out who did we miss? How did they fall through the cracks? They’re in your backyard, and they feel broken, they feel lost, and some of them still feel hopeless.”
Perret, 38, and his wife and three daughters had recently moved back into their Robert, Louisiana home on Father’s Day after the flooding in March. Less than two months later, the family was facing another massive recovery effort.
In a heart-wrenching video posted by Perret to social media, he took viewers on a tour of his still-flooded home before turning the camera back on himself in an emotional conclusion and offered some encouragement to fellow flood victims.
“Stay positive, stay strong,” Perret said in the video, as tears welled up in his eyes.
The video went viral, after being picked up by WVUE Fox 8 in New Orleans, and Perret became a symbol of hope for so many facing the long road to recovery.
Through the kindness of strangers and Westwego contractor Cuttin Edge Renovation, Perret’s family was able to return home, again, in October.
The whole experience left Perret astonished at the people of Louisiana’s willingness to help out their neighbors.
“There are beautiful people everywhere, but man, there is something about the people here,” says Perret.
As his life became whole again, Perret continued to hear from many flood victims still recovering, causing him to question why it was taking so long to dole out the federal flood assistance funding Louisiana had received.
“I don’t know where it went, but I know where it didn’t go,” says Perret.
Although he did not fully trust the government, at any level, before enduring two floods in 2016, Perret says the state government’s slow reaction to flood recovery “put the final nail in the coffin.”
“It doesn’t matter who’s in office,” says Perret. “It’s the same old Louisiana politics. There’s no transparency.”