Determined flood victim preserves Thanksgiving tradition

(Photo Credit: WAFB)
(Photo Credit: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – The August flood forced a change of tradition for many families, but at least one man is celebrating a decades-old custom despite Mother Nature’s wrath.

Terry Paul Rutledge, his wife and two kids turned their attention to the main course as they finished preparing the Thanksgiving trimmings spread across the table.

“I take the turkey, separate the skin from the meat, season in between, add onion, bell pepper, garlic,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge said his father-in-law shared the recipe with him some time ago.

“About 21 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since every year. This is the pot I’ve been cooking them (turkeys) in,” Rutledge added.

The aluminum pot is one of just a few things that survived the August flood. The rest of it is scattered across his property on Tiger Bend Road. Rutledge showed pictures of what his house looked like as the water took over. He said he was fast asleep when the water moved in.

“She (wife) has a poodle and he’s blind but I could hear her and the yelping kind of woke me up. When I stepped out of the bed, I was in waist-deep water,” Rutledge explained.

When he returned, Rutledge said he knew his house was a total loss.

“It looked like somebody came in there, took my house, dipped it in water, shook it upside down and set it back down. Everything was just everywhere,” Rutledge stated.

More than three months later, it still looks that way. Rutledge said he is waiting to hear from his insurance company. But after working years in the construction business, he said he knows the house will have to be demolished. So, he found someone with a small camper and began building a new life around it.

“I built an 8×10 and needed more room and I needed another 8×10 and added on. Then one more foot,” Rutledge explained.

This Thanksgiving, that new addition has been transformed into an outdoor kitchen complete with an oven and even a dishwasher. He may have nearly lost it all but, he said it is all he really needs.

“This is normal and as long as I can keep the norm it’s going to be okay. It’s really about these guys, you know,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge added once his house is demolished, he plans to replace it with a mobile home.

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