Biden calls senior advisor Cedric Richmond ‘boy’ and tells Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to ‘holler’ if he needs anything during meeting to address Hurricane Ida
President Joe Biden told Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to ‘just holler’ for help on Monday after Hurricane Ida ravaged the gulf coast and referred to his senior adviser, former Rep. Cedric Richmond, as ‘boy.’
Biden introduced Richmond, an New Orleans native who quit Congress to serve in the White House, by saying: I’m ‘here with my senior adviser and, uh, boy who knows Louisiana very well, man.’
Richmond joined Biden on the virtual call with governors, mayors and officials from the states impacted by Hurricane Ida, which has killed at least one person and left millions without power.
Biden announced Richmond would be the administration’s point person on the federal response to the storm.
‘While FEMA is our lead for on the ground response, if there’s something you need, needs my attention, Cedric is your direct line.
‘Whenever you need to go to Cedric, he’ll get back to me and we’ll get you what you need,’ he noted.
Biden also told the ten officials from Louisiana and Mississippi on the call to ‘just holler’ if they needed anything.
‘If there is anything else you need, you know just call. You’ve got the team at the table there … so just holler,’ he said. ‘We’re providing any help that you’re going to need,’ he noted.
The administration has touted its resources and preparedness for Hurricane Ida as it struggles to evacuate people from Afghanistan and contain the Delta variant, which is causing COVID cases to surge around the country.
Both Biden and press secretary Jen Psaki, in her daily briefing, reeled off a list of statistics as they outlined the federal government response. Biden noted the federal government has sent 200 generators to the area as one million people remain without power in the wake of the hurricane.
He also said he has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to authorize the use of drones to assess Ida’s damage to energy infrastructure and ordered the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to make available any satellite imagery that could help assess the extent of the damage.
Ida left more than 1 million people without power throughout Louisiana and Mississippi as it dumped torrential rain on the area, flooding much of New Orleans before being downgraded to a tropical storm Monday
One person, a 60-year-old man, has been confirmed dead. He has not been named and was killed after a tree fell on his home in Prairieville, Louisiana, on Sunday.
But both President Biden and Governor John Bel Edwards said they expect the death toll to increase throughout the day as search and rescue operations continue.
President Joe Biden on Monday told the governors and mayors of Louisiana and Mississippi to ‘just holler’ if they need any additional support in the wake of Hurricane Ida
President Biden referred to his senior adviser Cedric Richmond as ‘boy’ as he announced Richmond would take the lead for his administration on the federal response
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reeled off a list of statistics as she outlined the federal government response to Hurricane Ida
Additionally, he said, he is activating cooperative cellphone access so that if one cellphone carrier loses service, their customers in the area can temporarily switch to another cellphone carrier.
‘We’re going to stand with you and the people of the Gulf as long as it takes you to recover,’ Biden told the local elected official, saying ‘we’re providing any help that you may need.’
‘Folks get knocked down, we’re there to help you get back on your feet,’ Biden said before telling Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards directly: ‘If there’s anything else you need, you know just call, just holler.’
Psaki also gave a laundry list of items the government has done: ‘More than 3600 FEMA employees are deployed to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and are ready to provide additional support as needed. FEMA has staged more than 3.4 million meals, millions of liters of water, more than 35,700 tarps and roughly 200 generators, hundreds of additional ambulances and air ambulances have also been moved into the area.’
She added: ‘Shelters are open in affected areas throughout the Gulf Coast across the impacted states and they’re implementing steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The National Guard has also activated more than 5200 personnel in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama to support response efforts.’
Speaking on MSNBC on Monday, Bel Edwards warned that far more bad news lies ahead as search and rescue efforts continued in the wake of Sunday’s Category 4 hurricane.
He said: ‘I don’t want to mislead anyone. Robust search and rescue is happening right now and I fully expect that that death count will go up considerably throughout the day.’
Cynthia Lee Cheng – mayor of Jefferson Parish – also outlined the horror faced by some of her neighbors currently trapped in attics in the trashed town of Lafitte.
She said: ‘This is an area if you want to think of it like swampland, there’s alligators out there.
Door-to-door searches are currently underway in Jefferson County, using boats in badly-flooded areas. Louisiana has also activated 5,000 National Guard members.
A US Army spokesman said 195 high-water vehicles and 73 rescue boats had been prepped and staged across south Louisiana to aid door-to-door search attempts. The National Guard has also organized 34 helicopters to support search and rescue, evacuation and reconnaissance missions as needed.
A roof was ripped off a car parts store in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, on Sunday after Hurricane Ida blew through
Theophilus Charles, 70, sobs while sitting on the porch of his home in Houma, Louisiana, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida
Charles sits dejected on a mattress inside his home after Ida tore through Sunday, bringing 150mph winds and severe floods
Rene Hebert cleans out the family’s destroyed offices in Houma, Louisiana
A truck in Houma, Louisiana, drives past a metal sign downed by Hurricane Ida’s winds
Jeremy Hodges walks out of his family’s ruined storage unit in Houma on Monday, hours after Hurricane Ida
A man walks through deep floodwaters in Magnolia, Mississippi, in the aftermath of Ida on Monday morning
A car was destroyed by falling masonry in New Orleans after Ida tore through the Big Easy on Sunday
Windows were ripped out of an office building in Metairie, Louisiana, as Ida passed through
“We have one confirmed death but I don’t want to mislead anyone. Robust search and rescue is happening right now and I fully expect that death count will go up considerably throughout the day,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says on Hurricane Ida damage. pic.twitter.com/O5wpB6eScT
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 30, 2021
All of New Orleans lost power around sunset on Sunday, leaving people without refrigeration and air conditioning in the hot summer weather, as they used flashlights to search through the damage as the storm passed by around dawn.
Figures from power supplier Entergy confirmed that 144,000 homes were without power in the Big Easy. A further 195,000 are without power in nearby Jefferson Parish, while 80,000 are without power in St Tammany Parish.
The power cuts spelt bad news for Louisianans trying to work from home, and there was further misery for many on Monday, when cellphone and internet provider AT&T reported that 40 per cent of its network was down in the state due to Ida.
Search and rescue operations began at around 3 a.m., with the Louisiana National Guard going door to door to check on residents, many of whom are still stuck on the second-floor or the attics of their homes.
The United States Coast Guard also helped evacuate seven patients from a southern Louisiana hospital, Bel Edwards said Monday afternoon.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also tweeted that the state has deployed 35 members of Virginia Task Force 2 to the area and Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Monday the state was sending 132 firefighters, 30 fire engines, 14 crew members and a helicopter to Louisiana, with the Texas A&M Task Force One providing urban search and rescue capabilities.
‘The State of Texas is proud to support our neighbors in Louisiana by sending emergency resources and personnel to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,’ Abbott said in a statement.
‘We will never forget the kindness, generosity and support offered by the people of Louisiana during Hurricane Harvey four years ago, and we are eager to support them in their own time of need.’
But the Louisiana State Police told residents on Facebook ‘it may be difficult to get help to you for quite some time,’ as communication is limited in certain areas.
The State Police noted that as troopers continue to clear roadways ‘the full extent of damage is yet to be seen,’ and search and rescue workers still cannot get to certain areas.
‘A large portion of travel routes are blocked by down trees and power lines,’ they wrote. ‘In addition, there is standing water in some areas, which can deteriorate roads and sweep vehicles away. Debris is also scattered throughout the area, which can make navigating our roadways very difficult.’
They asked residents to refrain from traveling at this time ‘as it is these dangerous conditions that can create additional emergencies that could be prevented.’
Highway 51 was flooded in LaPlace, Louisiana with rescue crews having to take a boat to reach people stuck in their homes
Much of Louisiana was flooded in the aftermath
A person on a bicycle passes a damaged Shell station in Kenner, Louisiana on Monday as millions remained without power
Worker Alissia Smith collects a fallen street sign in the aftermath in Houma, Louisiana
A shrimp boat in the Bayou Segnette inlet has capsized from the heavy winds of Ida in Westwego, Louisiana
Aerial footage obtained by DailyMail.com showed the extent of the damage, with walls completely ripped off the side of one building in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana
Another building had its roof completely blown off, with debris scattered throughout the property
Some buildings and houses were reduced to just their frames as the hurricane passed by with 150 mph winds
A woman looks over damage to a neighborhood caused by Hurricane Ida on Monday
Water was waist-deep in some areas, as a man and his stepson trudged through the flooding in Saint Rose, Louisiana
Men in the area struggled to remove scaffolding that fell on top of a vehicle outside of a hotel in Houma, Louisiana
Now a tropical storm, Ida is expected to make its way through the Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast in the coming days, dropping three to six inches of rain along its way
A total of 950,000 homes have lost power across Louisiana as of Monday morning, with another 100,000 without electricity in Mississippi as the 911 system in Orleans Parish experienced technical difficulties for a second day in a row.
When the storm was at its strongest on Sunday, its winds raged at 150mph and picked up to just below 157mph – which would make it a Category 5 storm – and had it tie as the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the US mainland, according to the Associated Press.
Within the storm’s first 20 hours, Louisiana saw a maximum of 17 inches of rainfall in an area just west of New Orleans, according to a tweet from Greg Carbin of NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center. As rainfall continues, the National Weather Service predicts that Ida could reach a total of 24 inches of rain.
Ida is now set to move across Mississippi – sparking flood warnings for that state though Tuesday. The tropical storm warning for Louisiana was discontinued by late Monday morning.
The weather event will cross the north east tip of Alabama and into Tennessee in the early hours of Tuesday, with locals warned to prepare for flash floods caused by heavy rain, and winds of up to 60mph.
It will move into the north east on Thursday. And while the extreme weather event will have substantially weakened in power by then, Ida is still expected to dump three inches of water across much of the area.
People in areas including New England – whose soils were saturated by rainwater during Tropical Storm Henri last week – fear any more sudden inundations could cause flash flooding.
The power outage in New Orleans was caused by a tower toppled by Ida, with energy suppliers warning that power will be off indefinitely while damage assessments are carried out – and that locals could face weeks before it returns.
Entergy confirmed the only power in New Orleans was coming from generators, the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Energy Preparedness tweeted, citing ‘catastrophic transmission damage.’ The city relies on Entergy for backup power for the pumps for the levees.
That has sparked fears locals could poison themselves by attempting to use the generators – which emit dangerous carbon monoxide – in poorly ventilated indoor areas.
Governor Bel Edwards said hospitals, many of which are overrun with COVID patients, will have priority in power restoration.
New Orleans fire fighters assessed the damage from Hurricane Ida on Monday morning
The Karofsky shop suffers severe damage, as Governor John Bel Edwards warned recovery efforts could take weeks
The Karofsky shop suffered severe damage after Hurricane Ida pummeled New Orleans with strong winds
A piece of Cafe Du Monde is wrapped in a tree in the French Quarter due to Hurricane Ida in New Orleans
Energy power crews worked to restore power to New Orleans on Monday after the storm passed
Soloman Smith holds Walle and Jake Sikaffy walk along I-10 after being rescued from their damaged house in LaPlace
Figures from power supplier Entergy confirmed that 144,000 homes were without power in the Big Easy. A further 195,000 are without power in nearby Jefferson Parish, while 80,000 are without power in St Tamany Parish
The Category Four storm caused all eight transmission lines into New Orleans to go down, and created a load imbalance that knocked all power generation into the region offline, Entergy spokesman Brandon Scardigli said in a statement to Nola.com.
He said the company is working to ‘assess a path forward to restore power to those who can take it.’ But locals have warned that power could be out for weeks, given the scale of the damage that must be repaired.
Additionally, officials in Jefferson Parish said a transmission tower that provides electricity for New Orleans and the east bank of the parish collapsed into the river.
The parish’s Emergency Management Director told WVUE that cables that once hung across the Mississippi River were now buried under water.
Entergy officials tweeted on Monday that ‘it will likely take days to determine the extent of damage to our power grid’ and ‘far longer to restore electrical transmission in the region.’
New Orleans City Councilman Joe Giarrusso also said power companies’ estimates that electricity would be restored in the coming days was optimistic.
‘I think we have to be realistic at the same time, and prepare people for a worst-case scenario, just like [with] Hurricane Laura and Lake Charles, where it took weeks,’ he told CNN.
‘One of the things that we’re going to have to think, and I’m sure the city is working on right now, is for people who may not have the means – how could we get them to where they need, so they are safe’ as people may run out of food and water in the coming days.
There were reports that the levees – which were strengthened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – failed and were overrun
The outage in New Orleans was caused by a tower toppled by Ida, with energy suppliers warning that power will be off indefinitely while damage assessments are carried out
Louisiana state troopers have been urging residents to shelter in place and avoid sight seeing as Hurricane Ida raged across the state on Sunday, as reported by CNN. Above, streets in New Orleans were flooded in the storm’s wake
The U.S. Coast Guard Heartland conducted flights over Galliano, Louisiana, on Monday to asses the damage and identify hazards following Hurricane Ida
A view from a Coast Guard helicopter shows the destruction to coastal Galliano, Louisiana
A second floor balcony window in the French Quarter was blown out in the storm, leaving the building exposed during the storm as it approached Mississippi on Monday
The Big Easy was hit by Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm, late Sunday night. Canal Street is pictured in the aftermath on Monday morning
A worker removed the barriers on the road that were blown over by the wind on Canal Street in New Orleans
Members of the Louisiana National Guard stood outside their vehicles on North Rampart Street, in the French Quarter, to help in Hurricane Ida recovery efforts on Monday
The Louisiana National Guard sent in nearly 5,000 guardsmen for the rescue efforts. One of the guardsmen was seen lining up vehicles on North Rampart Street in New Orleans Monday morning
Guardsmen in Louisiana prepared a high-water truck to drive through the floodwaters in Hurricane Ida’s wake and assist residents in need
Two guardsmen were preparing to survey the skies above Louisiana in one of 34 helicopters deployed by the agency following the Category 4 hurricane
Meanwhile, there were reports that the levees – which had been upgraded since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area exactly 16 years ago – once again failed or were overtopped, leaving houses flooded with saturated sail turning parts of the city into a phenomenon known as brown ocean.
That sees saturated soils and swampy ground absorb very low quantities of rain water from storms or hurricanes, or none at all. The phenomenon meant Ida barely lost power after it hit the New Orleans shoreline on Sunday afternoon. Scientists say relatively warm groundwater also helped ramp up Ida’s power even more.
Ida’s strength was so ferocious that it pushed water flowing out into the Gulf of Mississippi back into the Mississippi River, causing ‘negative flow’ – water flowing backwards, Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Ricky Boyette said.
There were four flash flood emergencies in place through parts of southeastern Louisiana. CNN reported, with between eight to 16 inches of rain in LaPlace, as local law enforcement reported flash flooding in Lafitte and Jean Lafitte.
Stream gauge reports continued to show rapid rises near the stream, and a flash flood emergency for Alliance continued Monday morning due to levee failure near Highway 23.
The National Weather Service warned these are extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations.
‘Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.’
Montegut fire chief Toby Henry walks back to his fire truck in the rain as firefighters cut through trees on the road in Bourg, Louisiana as Hurricane Ida passed over the town on Sunday
A police officer patrols past woman walking along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Anyone in need of emergency help was asked to go to their local patrol officer or go to their nearest fire station
A blown down sign lies on the street along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, with a pair of plastic beads similar to those given out during New Orlean’s famous Mardi Gras event
Greg Nazarko, manager of the Bourbon Bandstand bar on Bourbon Street, stands outside the club, where he rode out the storm, which left New Orleans without power on Monday
Police used flashlights early Monday to look through debris after a building collapsed from the effects of Hurricane Ida
Early Monday morning, guardsmen began search-and-rescue missions with other local and state agencies in Laplace, near New Orleans, and went door to door throughout the state to check on residents. Many are still stuck on the second-floor or the attics of their homes
Downtown buildings were lit up by backup generators as nearly 1 million people remained without power
The storm left the Buddy Bolden mural on the wall of The Little Gem Saloon in New Orleans in tatters
Anyone needing emergency help was urged to go to their nearest fire station or approach their nearest officer.
Some people also took to social media to post their addresses and locations, asking for help, with officials promising rescue efforts would begin in the early morning hours of Monday, as it moved into Mississippi.
Three storms are being monitored in the Atlantic as Ida approaches Mississippi
As Louisiana residents recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, three more storm systems are being monitored in the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Hurricane Center has been watching Tropical Storm Julian, which was briefly named the 10th storm of 2021 and formed in the Atlantic around the same time that Hurricane Ida reached the mainland U.S. However, Julian was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone by early Monday morning and is projected to dissipate before reaching land.
In addition, a storm system known as Tropical Depression 10 is expected to become Tropical Storm Kate on Wednesday or Thursday. Kate is then expected to continue its course over the Atlantic, without making landfall.
The hurricane-tracking organization sent out an advisory at 5am on Monday, noting that the system was about 775 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds at about 35mph with higher gusts.
‘[It] remains distinctly possible that the depression could become a remnant low (post-tropical cyclone) if its convection is completely stripped away,’ the National Hurricane Center wrote in an advisory.
There are also two disturbances and, if either grow strong enough, would be named Tropical Storm Larry. One of the disturbances is east of the Delmarva Peninsula and is drifting out into the Atlantic off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, with little chance of it ending up over the United States.
Another storm is expected to emerge off the coast of Africa later today and has a high chance of becoming a tropical depression later this week, with a 60 per cent chance in the next two days and an 80 per cent chance in the next five. It is project to move west and northwest over the eastern Atlantic, according to the Miami Herald.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Ida was weakened to a tropical storm as it passed over Mississippi on Monday and flood warnings are in place for Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. The storm flooded much of New Orleans, overpowering the levees which were strengthened after Hurricane Katrina hit the area on the same date 16 years ago.
Hurricane season is expected to reach its peak on September 10 and continue to last until November 30.
In a Sunday news conference, Louisiana Governor Edwards said rescue crews would not be able to immediately help those who were stranded, and warned the state could see weeks of recovery.
‘Many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,’ he said, but added: ‘There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you we are going to get through this.’
Rescue operations began around 3 a.m. Monday, the governor said in his interview with MSNBC, with 900 search and rescue personnel from 16 different states assisting with the efforts as some residents continue to shelter on the second-floors of their homes or in their attics.
Matthew Marchetti, a spokesman for Houston-based nonprofit Crowdsource Rescue, said the group had rescued about 150 people out of the 1,000 reports it received in Louisiana.
The group currently has three teams operating in LaPlace and are en route to Lafitte in hopes of assisting rescue efforts there. But, he told CNN, that is going to be difficult.
‘Lafitte is a bit of a technical challenge,’ he said, calling it a ‘long boat ride because of road issues.’
Crews Monday morning assessed the damage from the storm.
‘Unfortunately, the worst case scenario seems to have happened,’ Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee said, adding that some houses are flooded with water that’s ‘beyond chest high. It’s up to the top of the roof.’
The weather conditions and power outages made it tough for teams to work overnight.
‘This is an area that has a lot of swampland, alligators, very dangerous conditions. They had to wait for the sun to come up this morning. They had a strategy,’ Lee explained to CNN. ‘We have people out there ready to clear roads. We’re going to have boats, high-water vehicles. Our first responders are ready to go. They just needed the daylight to be able to do their best work.’
She called for a mandatory curfew for all of the parish from 6 a.m. Monday through at least 6 a.m. Tuesday. All residents are urged to stay off the roads during this time.
The storm slammed the barrier island of Grand Isle and blew off the roofs of buildings around Port Fourchon as it made landfall early Sunday morning and churned its way through the southern Louisiana wetlands, over the state’s petrochemical corridor, threatening more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Many did not have enough money or resources to flee from the fast-approaching storm, which wreaked havoc in its wake and left many buildings destroyed.
One of the buildings was the historic Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which says jazz legend Louis Armstrong once lived in the building, which was a shop on the first floor with a residence above.
It started out as a tailor shop in 1913, and Armstrong ‘worked for the Karnofskies on their coal and junk wagons, tooting “a small tin horn” and ate meals with the family,’ who eventually gave him money for his first concert.
Their son, Morris Karnofsky, would go on to open the first jazz record store in town and ‘Armstrong visited his friend and musician buddies at the store on his many return trips to the city.’
Another apartment building in Kenner, Louisiana burned overnight after the storm struck it.
An apartment building that burned overnight after Hurricane Ida struck the Relais Esplanade Apartments in Kenner, Louisiana
A man inspects his RV in rising floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, as he drives through a campground in Magnolia, Mississippi
A Jackson, Mississippi, resident uses a towel for a head covering as she leaves a convenience store after buying coffee, Monday morning
CrowdSource Rescue teams headed to Lafitte to help with the rescue operations
By late Sunday, significant flooding was reported in LaPlace and in places like LaFitte, where a barge struck a swinging bridge.
The United States Coast Guard office in the region received more than a dozen reports of breakaway barges, Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom told the Associated Press.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was also in contact with more than 1,500 oil refineries, chemical plants and other petrochemical plants, and will respond to any reported pollution leaks or petroleum spills, agency spokesman Greg Langley said.
And on Monday, LaFourche Parish officials said re-entry into the area will be delayed for up to a week ‘due to conditions created by Hurricane Ida,’ saying in a news release: ‘LaFourche Parish roads are currently unpassable and will be for some time.’
Officials said first responders will be ‘working around the clock to clear the roads for residents to return,’ as a curfew remains in affect.
The area is also under a boil water advisory, the officials said, with many residents completely without water.
And in Sidell, Louisiana, Mayor Greg Comer said, there is flooding in ‘every neighborhood in town,’ and local officials had to deploy boats to conduct water rescues on Monday.
‘In about a three-hour period, we had probably a five to six foot rise in the bayou and the lake estuary system that pushed water into a number of people’s homes on the south side of our community,’ he explained.
‘We had to deploy boats at 4:00 this morning and do water rescues,’ he told CNN, noting they had already taken 15 people off their roofs in these water rescues.
Some people also waded out into waist-deep water to flag down police officers, Comer said, ‘and we were able to get in there and find these folks, but it has been a pretty long morning for our first responders, our police officers and some of our firemen.’
He now hopes to have power back to the region in three to five days ‘which would be much, much quicker than the two weeks it took after Katrina.’
But the worst of it, he fears, may not be over.
‘As the storm goes north and the winds shift out of a southeasterly direction to a southwesterly direction, it’ll start taking and pushing all the water that’s in [Lake Pontchartrain] and it begins to stack up on our side of the lake, and we’ll see another rise in water, we think, this afternoon.’
Ida hit New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
The storm’s top wind speed on Monday was 60 mph, and forecasters expect it will weaken drastically as it dumps rain on Mississippi.
It was centered about 65 miles south-southwest of Jackson, Mississippi this morning, heading north at 8 mph with sustained winds of 45 mph.
It is expected to bring strong winds throughout the day, which could knock out the power for even more residents.
A tornado risk will also continue to the east of the center of circulation, according to FOX News, and heavy rain is going to be the biggest concern as the remnants move into the Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast in the coming days.
Three to six inches of rain is expected along Ida’s path, including through southern New England, where the ground is already saturated from Tropical Storm Henri one week ago.
Too poor to flee Ida: Low income families who can’t afford gas or a hotel are forced to stay home and risk being killed by hurricane
Some low income families in Louisiana are being forced to stay at their homes in Hurricane Ida’s wake because they can’t afford the gas or hotel room to relocate somewhere safer.
Such was the case for Robert Owens, 27, who recalled the ‘terrifying feeling’ of watching lines of cars fleeing from Baton Rouge, where he lives with his wife, mother-in-law, a roommate and four pets.
‘Our bank account is empty – we can´t afford to leave,’ he said.
Out of desperation, Owens went to ACE Cash Express on Saturday and submitted documents for a payday loan. He was denied, however, and told he didn´t have enough credit history.
Hurricane Ida reached the US mainland at 11.55am on Sunday, swamping the barrier island of Grand Isle as landfall came just to the west at Port Fourchon, Louisiana. At that point, Owens realized that his family would have to ride out the storm in their duplex apartment.
Owens said the majority of people in his low-income neighborhood are in the same predicament. They want to leave to protect families, but have no choice but to stay.
‘A lot of us here in my neighborhood have to just hunker down and wait, not knowing how bad it´s going to get,’ he said.
Many residents struggled to evacuate to safer locations, but others lacked the funds to do so and had to stay in their homes and hope for the best. Above, a car got stuck in the storm’s floodwaters in Bay St Louis, Mississippi
One included Robert Owens, 27, of Baton Rouge, said he feared the storm’s 150mph winds would rip the roof off his duplex apartment
Hurricane Ida reached the US mainland at 11.55am on Sunday, swamping the barrier island of Grand Isle as landfall came just to the west at Port Fourchon, Louisiana
A young girl blocked her face from the wind and rain produced by Hurricane Ida on Sunday in New Orleans
‘There people who have funds to lean on are able to get out of here, but there´s a big chunk of people that are lower-income that don´t have a savings account to fall on,’ he continued. ‘We´re left behind.’
By Sunday night at 9pm, Owens said his family and all others in his neighborhood had lost power. The sky was lighting up green from transformers blowing up all around them, he said.
Several trees had collapsed on neighbor’s properties, but it was too dark to see the full extent of the damage. Owens said they were trying to use a flashlight to survey the street, but were wary of jeopardizing their safety.
‘Never in my life have I encountered something this major,’ he said as giant gusts rattled his home’s windows.
Meanwhile, about 30 miles southeast, authorities announced the storm’s first death after a 60-year-old man died when a tree fell on his home in Ascension Parish on Sunday night.
By Monday morning, more than 1 million customers in Louisiana lost power – including thousands in Baton Rouge – according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.
Owens said there were a few times when it sounded like the roof of his duplex might come off. He said his wife was packing a bag of clothes and essentials, just in case.
‘We’ll shelter in the car if we lose the house,’ he said. The family all share his wife’s Toyota Avalon, a vehicle ‘not nearly big enough’ to shelter four people, three dogs and a cat.
A utility worker photographed waves as they slammed against a sea wall on Sunday
A man took pictures of high waves along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain as Hurricane Ida neared on Sunday
Earlier in the day, Owens said he was hurriedly placing towels under leaking windows in his duplex and charging electronics. He tried to go to Dollar General and Dollar Tree to pick up food, but they were closed. His family has lights glued around the walls of the house. They planned to hide in the laundry room or the kitchen when the storm hits – places without windows.
‘There´s a general feeling of fear in not knowing what´s going to be the aftermath of this,’ he said. ‘That´s the most concerning thing. Like, what are we going to do if it gets really bad? Will we still be alive? Is a tree going fall on top of us?’
Owens said his mother-in-law is on disability. His roommates both work for Apple iOS tech support. His wife works scheduling blood donations. All of them rely on the internet to work from home, and if it goes out, they won´t be able to bring in any money.
‘We might be without work, and rent, power, water, all of those bills will still be needing to get paid,’ he said. ‘We are a little bit concerned about losing our utilities or even our house – if it’s still standing – because we´re not going to have the money for any other bills.’
He said it’s hard to feel so vulnerable, like his family is getting left behind.
‘The fact that we are not middle class or above, it just kind of keeps coming back to bite us over and over again, in so many different directions and ways – a simple pay-day advance being one of them,’ he said. ‘It´s like we´re having to pay for being poor, even though we´re trying to not be poor.