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Cox’s Meat Market is open for business despite coping through a trying week

RESERVE — Cox’s Meat Market on River Road is open for business despite a trying week of blows to the family who’s served the local community for nearly 90 years now.

Market owner Robert Cox said just two days before Hurricane Ida’s arrival on Aug. 29, he lost his father, Henry, to pancreatic cancer. Henry started working at the store in the 1930s and took over in the 1950s. Henry was just days shy of turning 94 years old.

Cox said his granddaughter found a store in Hammond that had just one generator left one day before the storm hit. His response was, “Hold on, I’m on the way.” That generator has allowed the family to preserve most of its Labor Day shipments, with the exception of some ground beef and fresh sausage that was disposed of after not selling. Without power, the store can preserve its meat for a maximum of 2.5 days.

The generator also allowed the market to reopen on Sept. 1, and business has been steady since, Cox said. Most items are available for sale, including pork chops, pork loins, beef, cold cuts and sausage. Deliveries have been tough, especially since the slaughterhouse is not yet up and running, Cox said. Additionally, bread is an unfound luxury at this time.

“If you can cook, then we have the meat,” said market employee Tanya Juneau.

In addition to losing Henry, the family is coping with other challenges. Cox said he’s had to travel to Ascension Parish to obtain fuel for his generator. And he discovered that during the night on Sunday, someone siphoned 80 gallons of gas from his generator.

As of August, the store has officially been in business for 88 years. Cox said he plans to hold some sort of celebration when it’s the right time to do so. Additionally, he’s not sure when the market will resume its farmers market in Destrehan, a Saturday tradition.

The store will close Thursday for Henry’s funeral. Cox said there’s no better place for family and loved ones to gather than at the market where the family’s legacy began.

While serving local residents, Cox and his employees are recovering from damage to their homes as well. Cox recalls past storms like Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which hit just a day after he took over the store from his father. None compare to Hurricane Ida, he said. While enduring the storm in his home, he told himself it was a bad mistake to stay.

“This one is the one where I said, ‘I’ll never stay here again through a hurricane,'” Cox said. “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it.”

Cox said his strategy of coping comes from the advice of his late wife: “Don’t stress.”

The market’s regular hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cox said he’s been regularly updating the market’s Facebook page regarding the current hours of operation.

“I feel sorry for all my customers. We’ve got a good customer base from all over the state that comes down here regularly,” he said. “I know if they can’t come right now, they’re going to come.”

LaPlace resident Naomi Clofer said she was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area. But it still doesn’t compare to what Hurricane Ida left behind for many in the River parishes. She’s glad Cox’s is open.

“We’ve had to drive so far and I was blessed today to catch them open because I’ve been trying to get cold cuts for days,” Clofer said. “It is a blessing for the people for Cox’s to be open.”