Meet Mr. Menard. He Survived The Lake Peigneur Disaster
The man pictured here is Mr. Ores Lee Menard from Milton. I met him this morning at his home, as he allowed my buddy Hobeaux and me pick Japanese Plums from the trees in his yard.
Mr. Menard, now 89, had many stories to tell, but the one that fascinated me most was the story about the time he escaped the whirlpool of the Lake Peigneur Disaster.
It was on a November day in 1980. I was sitting in a class at Henry High School, just a few miles from Delcambre, when word started spreading about the salt mine under Lake Peigneur filling with water. (The documentary below tells most of the story)
Mr. Menard was on the tug boat that is mentioned in this story about the incident. He told me that the tug was struggling to escape for a few minutes, unable to motor out of danger's way due to some barges blocking their way. Just as they thought they were doomed, the vortex (whirlpool) "burped", which helped to dislodge the barges in their way, clearing a path for their escape.
It's truly a miracle that no human lives were lost in the disaster, though I did read that 3 dogs lost their lives. Mr. Menard still counts his lucky stars that he didn't become a statistic that day.
Mr. Menard shared several other stories with me this morning, including one about him not knowing English when he started school in Milton.
He also taught me how to get his dog, Sheba, to like me.
Mr. Menard, thank you for the Japanese Plums and the great stories. I hope to get to sit with you again soon!