Storm damage leaves East Bank business owner and family hurting

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The home of Kristi Tift and her fiance in the East Bank District in Bossier City was severely damaged by storms, leaving the family without a home of their own to live in. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

A Bossier City resident and business owner in the East Bank District is currently homeless after a recent storm caused heavy damage to her house.

Kristi Tift, owner of Retro 521 cafe, and her fiancé, D’Anna, plus D’Anna’s children and the couple’s dogs have been displaced after storms and high winds blew through a portion of Bossier City June 23. The storms caused a large tree to fall on their home in the 5000 block of Ogilvie Street. The damages that occurred forced all the occupants to vacate the home with nowhere to go. 

Tift says she remembers attending a get together on the evening of June 23 at Retro 521 when she made a phone call from the back parking lot of the business that faces her home. She observed the sky turning a green color and noticed the wind picking up. 

“It started to rain so heavy that I could barely see my house,” said Tift. “It was coming from all different directions. It was so bad that I really thought my truck was being picked up.”

Scared for the wellbeing of her fiancé and her children, Tift then called D’Anna to check on their safety and whereabouts.

“She had pulled over on to the side of the road coming off of Clyde Fant Parkway (in Shreveport) because she couldn’t see the road,” Tift said.  “She did say that she could see a lot of trees and debris along the parkway.”

While on the phone with her fiancé, Tift saw the back door to Retro 521 fly open and hit the side of the building. Realizing that the storm was getting worse, Tift rushed inside to check on everyone inside.

Kristi Tift

“I came inside and everyone was freaking out. The power was out and the front door was wide open,” Tift said. “Then all of a sudden it stopped.”

After the rained stopped, Tift’s neighbor ran over to the coffee shop and told her that a tree had fallen on Tift’s home. 

“My neighbor came running to the coffee shop and told me that a tree fell onto my house. I immediately thought of my dogs,” Tift said. “We were able to get to the part of the house where the dogs were and got the puppies to safety.”

However, it doesn’t compare to the close call that could have occurred.

“The blessing in this is that D’Anna picked up her kids an hour later than the normal time. If it would have been the  normal pick up time, she and the girls would have been sitting at the kitchen table that is now underneath the tree.”

As news quickly spread across Bossier of what happened to her home, some of Tift’s and D’Anna’s friends came to their aide. 

“Kim Clark and Nessa George came out, and Nessa cut the top of the tree. Robin Jones, her husband and son pulled limbs, brought ladders and lights, and stood in the rain. They even put our kids and puppies up for safety that night, which I am eternally grateful for,” Tift said. “My friend JJ was by my side calling utilities, keeping my head straight and managing the groundwork with me. Kandie and Greg additionally stood by my side helping me save personal items from our home. Cassie managed to keep me and D’Anna level headed while pulling our water damaged items from the house.”

Seeing that Tift would need additional help, a friend of Tift’s suggested that she reach out on social media to The Louisiana Cajun Navy group of volunteers. And they heard the call for help.

On Monday morning at 8 a.m., The Louisiana Cajun Navy were at the home clearing and cleaning everything from the home.

“Not only were they just clearing, they were offering compassion, empathy and being sympathetic to the situation,” Tift said. “The master behind their efforts is Clyde Cain. He has point of contacts in several surrounding states. He is amazing.”

The Louisiana Cajun Navy also provided a $100 gift card, U-Haul, and storage facility for Tift and her family’s possessions. 

“My message to all who helped is that keep on keeping on and provide a service, a gesture that is beyond you. Thank you for going above yourself and for putting others before your own self,” Tift said. “I’ve created some friendships with people that I have not known before. Thank you for showing me that I want to really get involved in the storm community.” 

At this time Tift and her family have removed everything from the home that was salvageable and are temporarily staying at a friend’s home. They are currently looking for a permanent place to call home.

To help, you can find the Cajun Navy on Facebook at facebook.com/LaCajunNavy/ and reach out about helping Tift or other storm damage victims.