One of Braithwaite's last remaining families gives thanks - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

One of Braithwaite's last remaining families gives thanks, makes plans

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Braithwaite, La. -

Last year, dozens of families celebrated Thanksgiving in the tiny community of Braithwaite.  This year, we found just one.

Cisco Gonzales, the father of a family of five, said, "You can't find five people who say they are coming back.  It's going to be a ghost town."

For the most part, it already is. The Gonzales family built their plantation-style home 12-feet higher than the flood which hit during Katrina.

The Gonzales family lived through this once before. They moved to Braithwaite after Katrina destroyed their previous home in St. Bernard.   Isaac destroyed the downstairs of their new home.

"My roots are wet and above the roots, the green leaves are dying on the body," said Cisco Gonzales.

And while the turkey cooks upstairs, there's still tens of thousands of dollars' worth of work to do down below. Upstairs, the floor is buckled from Isaac's flood -- the Gonzales' spirit is not.

The family prepares a normal Thanksgiving meal for a smaller than normal crowd, after a year which has been anything but normal.

"At 49 I never thought I'd leave, but I'm so ready now," said Cisco.

There will be no neighbors stopping by this holiday.  "It's lonely.  You have to get used to driving and not seeing your neighbors," said Christy Gonzales.

Instead, there's just the debris of once-happy homes. 

In spite of being one of just three remaining families in the Braithwaite area, the Gonzales family has a lot to be thankful for -- much of their home remains, they've got good food, and their family is fine.

But one thing they're not thankful for is the treatment they've gotten from their insurance company and FEMA.

"Please help... it's always a different excuse," said Christy.

Between their home and their business, the Gonzales family spends about $90,000 a year on insurance, but so far haven't gotten a dime.

A lot has changed. Aside from the damage, Isaac's flood put crabs in the freshwater pond out back.  And until levees here are federalized, the family fears the threat of more floods, in the future.

"All my family lives in St. Bernard.  I'm happy for that [flood protection] system they got.  Too bad they didn't stretch it 18 miles longer," said Cisco.

The Gonzales family will likely leave after the kids get out of school. They say they're tired of fighting.  But on this Thanksgiving, they're doing the best they can, and giving thanks for what they say is important -- the family itself.

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