You be capatured by this story. You not only read the story but you can picture it. Been called a Diamond in the Swamp by a police officer reviewer.
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Behind the Badge in Atchafalaya Swamp
Nestled deep in the bayous and swamps of Louisiana is a small parish in southwestern Louisiana. Welcome to the Atchafalaya Swamp Police Department, where this Cajun beauty, Lieutenant Kevan Noelie “Sweetie-pie” Estopinal, who at the age of twenty-three, stood five foot four and 120 pounds in full dress uniform. With her bedroom-blue eyes, Noelie gets the attention of many.
Noelie “Sweetie-pie” or “Sweets” as she is called, was raised in the shadows of her twin brother. A Louisiana State Trooper, Kevinn Peter Estopinal Jr., stands five foot eleven, with broad shoulders, a massive chest, and is called “Ace.” Kevinn and Noelie were raised by their stepfather, Paul Estopinal, who had taken care of them since the tender age of two. His brother, Fire Chief Kevinn Peter Estopinal, and his wife and newborn child were killed in a category-5 hurricane that tore through the Bayou twenty-two years earlier and ripped several parishes apart.
They now live in the family’s plantation in Atchafalaya, which not only survived a hurricane in the 1830s when it was known as Attakapas County Territory of Orleans, but the Civil War and Hurricane Dakota in 1962. Berthelot Plantation is a gracious manor with all of its land, and it’s the biggest in southwestern Louisiana.
Sweetie-pie is the apple of her little brother’s eyes, only to have a stepfather who grieved for his baby girl who was lost that awful day, too. Sweetie-pie paid the price for living. I refer to my stepfather as Paul, because he is cold towards me. Only ice was colder. After a rough childhood, the children followed in the family’s tradition of law enforcement.
I became the first female in the department’s history at the age of twenty-two. I am the youngest lieutenant. When little, we were nicknamed the four Atchafalaya bears-Kevinn, Bryan, Hoss and me. We were all children orphaned by Hurricane Dakota. Since a very young age, Hoss and I were childhood sweethearts. As we both have grown older together, Hoss hold the key to my heart. Joseph Hoss Carroll stand six foot two and weights 250 pounds. He’s a man of steel. I call him Hoss, because when we were little, he loved wild horses. He never seemed so large to me, until one day, he emerged out of the Bayou after a rescue dive in his Neoprene orange dive suit. He looked huge.
In this story you will see the spirit of these two adults with the passion of the Bayou- a passion that was born one hot, humid, July 4 night. That day’s struggle would test their courage, and when tragedy strikes, it will tear them apart again.
My brothers supervisor, a fellow Louisiana State Trooper, showed me the kindness and compassion that would teach me how to trust and love again. He showed me how to beat the odds and stood by my side when tragedy struck again. He also stood at my side during the loss of a child. He taught me how to find and make sure I saw rainbows on my darkest days. He reminded me that, when one door slams shut, another one opens wide. He showed me that is was okay to love again.
So let’s now enter the Atchafalaya Swamp, with its gators, snakes, creatures and ghost.
Names, places and incidents have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty.
Hurricane Season 1962.
Hurricane Dakota was a Category- 5 hurricane that was bearing down on the southwest coast of Louisiana, winds gusting over 220 miles per hour. The surf was upwards of twenty-five feet or more. The levees protecting the parish were only eight to ten feet in some areas. These levees were not meant for a Category 1 or a Category 5.
It was the worst storm that Atchafalaya Parish had every seen. People were told to evacuate, but several families took cover in Berthelot Plantation, which survived the Civil War and other hurricanes.
Hurricane Dakota struck at midnight, and his winds turned trees into toothpicks. When the winds got very strong, Bryan, Stevie, Kevinn, Hoss and I were placed into a old shrimp chest that had been in the family’s shrimp boat. They had life vest that were secured into the chest. When a squall of water came ashore and hit that section of the house, it took the ice chest into the night. Then the tornados came ashore and took more of that section of the house.
The ice chest was taken by the surge of water. Our mother had gone into labor, and our father, mother and infant child were lost. Meanwhile, across the parish, Paul’s wife and grandparents had fled her parent’s house where they had taken shelter. They took the levee road and were washed away when the levee broke. All were lost.
All of us children had been floating in the Bayou with all the creatures of the swamp until we were found. Chief Paul Estopinal gave all four children to the nuns at Brightens Hall Orphanage to watch and raise us. He couldn’t take care of us, because he was grieving for his own little girl who died in his arms after being bitten by a snake in the ice chest.
Paul took Kevinn and left me behind, because I reminded him of his own daughter who was lost. However, when Kevinn and I grieved for each other, he was persuaded to take me also.
He could not open his heart to love me. Every time he saw me, he felt rage and grief. For twenty-two years, he kept his love locked deep inside his heart and soul. He just kept it locked away. I knew it but protected him when he hurt me. Now lets enter their lives, twenty-two years later.
Sure did, only how did you beat me home this morning?
Well, you didn’t notice a new unit in the garage did you?
Well, around 3:00 a.m., a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) broadsided my patrol unit?
Who? Are you alright?
I have some bruised ribs, that’s all. So I just threw my vest on the bed. I am not wearing it.
No, Sis. It’s the Fourth of July, which means some stupid people will be shooting their weapons in the air, and those bullets have to land somewhere.
I know, so I will be uncomfortable and sweat, because it’s so damn hot and muggy outside.
Oh, Sis, we will be miserable with our vest on, so close mine please?
A Diamond in the Swamp
M. Grigsby, Reviewer, 07/17/2007
A Diamond in the Swamp
'Behind the Badge in Atchafalaya Swamp,' by Dee Dee Serpas – This is as reflective, generous, and humane – as it is moving, as Lt. Kevan Noelie's memory keeps returning to the values and struggles of 5 children orphaned by Hurricane Dakota. Serpas draws from her experiences of working for the East Jefferson Levee Police, Kenner Police Department and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office to bring realism to the character for Lt. Kevan Noelie, AKA “Sweetie Pie” Given all the sobering things that have happened since the turn of the 21st century — from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina., this story of a southern police woman and her internal struggles is an illustration of the resilience of the American spirit. Ms. Serpas has written a serious, energetically researched and fluent book, which gives the reader understanding in the complex lives of those who experience not only the drama of everyone’s lives in a professional sense by of their own personal dramas as well. Serpas gives Lt. Kevan Noelie, a “capacity for personal growth and change” embodied by her decision to be a police officer and follow in her family’s legacy, even when she finds that legacy is some what tarnished by the hidden actions of her own family members. In creating a portrait of Lt. Kevan Noelie, Ms. Serpas does much of what the reader will come to understand as bringing real life personal experiences and interjecting them in to the character. She underscores Noelie’s intelligence, toughness and resilience but also describes less than attractive traits that are hidden deep within the character’s own psyche. The gripping and powerful imagery presented, can only be formed by those “who have been there”. Serpas brings the powerful emotional tides to life in a way that takes the reader’s heart and brings them in to the fold of understanding Noelie’s life and seeing the events through her eyes, feeling her pain, joy and internal conflicts. The account of Noelie’s many traits seen in private by her friends, family and a select few —humor, spontaneity, enthusiasm — are concealed behind the “protective shell” she wears in public. This is described as “a disconnect between her convictions and words, and her actions.” Arguably the most troubling incidents in this book relate to Noelie’s relationship with “her brother”, her unknown brother, and a significant other” All of these come to a clash in the early part of the book, which starts the reader on a roll coaster ride though the emotional torment, grief and highs and lows of Noelie’s personal and professional life. Serpas, however, focuses on the battles between not only others and Noelie, but also Noelie and herself. In the course of the book Sepras’s creates a highly detailed portrait of Lt. Kevan Noelie, which everyone will laugh with, cry for and be on the edge of the seat for the next tragic incident that the character experiences. The reader is held to each page it is a true “can put it down adventure.” Serpas makes her mark in the literary world with the publication of “Behind the Badge in Atchafalaya Swamp” Keep watching for the next in the series of coming books from this new and promising author.
Bayou comes to life
Bayou comes to life
I know how difficult it is to write in a second language. but Dee Dee Serpas has done a wonderful job. the bayou really did come to life. I've never been there. Thought the ghosts were really realistic. An the hero was so heroic to save orphans from the bruning orphanage she is a roll model for every one especially police.
This would make a wonderful Movie
Fox , 07/07/2007
I picked up this book after talking with the author in Gauthier. Mississippi at the Waldens book store. The look in her eyes when she told you about her novel filled with emotion. This book is a great read.Keep them coming, an it should be made into a move.
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Reader Reviews for "Behind the Badge in Atchafalaya Swamp(Hard Cover)"
|Reviewed by Dee Dee Serpas, Ret. Officer
I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. I would reccomend this book to anybody and everybody. The Hurricane was definitely my favorite part. It isnt possible to be dissapointed by this book, if anything u might love it...