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Mayor of Central estimates 90 percent of his city flooded

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CENTRAL- The Mayor of Central estimates 90 percent of the residents in his city took on water of some kind from last week's catastrophic flooding.

The Mayor estimates half of the residents had flood insurance. That is making things especially challenging for those trying to bounce back. As the emotional reality sets in, the recovery is going to take a long time.

Tess Breaux's short walk up her driveway brought on a flood of emotions. It's her first look at her home in Central since she was rescued by boat. She claims she got sick from the floodwaters, and has been in the hospital since she was discharged Wednesday. News 2's Chris Nakamoto was there as she walked in.

"The whole street, I couldn't tell which one was mine," Breaux said.

Breaux was getting updates from her husband, but couldn't do anything since she was hospitalized.

Nearly every home in the Bellingrath Lakes subdivision in Central flooded. Many homeowners did not have flood insurance because it's not in a flood zone leaving many of them wondering how they'll write the next chapter of their lives.

"I'm going to take it as a new beginning," Miseane Terry said. "I'm going to start from that point. I know there's going to be a long road ahead of me."

Miseane Terry and her family also had to get rescued by boat. She's a real estate agent and never imagined she'd flood. Her daughter turned seven while they were evacuated in multiple shelters before they could return home and start tossing decades of memories.

"I cook with love," Terry said. "This is the place where I've celebrated thanksgivings, preparing food for families and friends. When I saw all this go, it was a tear jerker for me."

Like many of her neighbors, the Terrys also did not have flood insurance.

"Eleven thousand residences, 9,000 of them are damaged," Mayor Junior Shelton said. "You look around, this is a typical neighborhood in Central, blue collar workers working for every dime they make. Their whole lives are lying out here on the streets."

Central Mayor Junior Shelton doesn't know how his city will recover. He said 27,000 people live there and 25,000 people flooded. Shelton says his city was in an economic surge before the flooding, and is now in recovery mode.

"It's going to be tough," Shelton said. "It's going to be a long road, months possibly even years."

Tonight, many neighbors are just grateful to be alive, like Tess Breaux who was just discharged from the hospital.

"A good friend of mine was killed in the flood," Breaux said. "We'll rebuild, but it's going to take us a long time."

The Mayor says the City of Central is the 12th largest in the state. He believes much of his city could have been saved if the Comite River Diversion Project was functional. Mayor Shelton says there's been too much red tape tied to that project, and this flood could have been prevented.

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