Louisiana | Despair and anger after Hurricane Ida

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(Laplace) Collapsed ceiling, smashed garage door, overturned basketball hoop: Lxchelle Arceneaux looked in despair on Monday at the devastation that Hurricane Ida wreaked overnight on his house in the town of LaPlace west of La Nouvelle-Orléans.

Posted on Aug 30, 2021 at 6:16 am Updated at 1:28 pm

Daxia ROJAS Agence France-Presse

“My children were scared,” says AFP, the 46-year-old woman dressed in blue on the threshold of her house. “I had never heard such gusts of wind. ”

Mrs. Arceneaux had fled to her bedroom with her husband and children when the wind broke a window that was barricaded as well as possible with a board made of wood and tape.

“Water began to seep from the roof into the interior. The fire alarms started to howl, ”she continues, explaining that she tried to evacuate the rain with buckets. “We didn’t have enough sockets,” she adds, the sound of her voice drowned out by the noise of the generators and the power outage in the whole city.

Around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, part of his blanket sagged and spilled in his living room, with bubbles of moisture still visible on his white wallpaper on Monday.

Despair

Lxchelle Arceneaux is furious at the authorities who, in their opinion, have not provided enough information about the hurricane’s trajectory and the danger to this 30,000-inhabitant city on the east bank of the Mississippi between La New Orleans and the capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge.

“We knew there was a hurricane but not that the eye of the storm was approaching us,” she says angrily. “We only got the flood alarm when the hurricane was there,” she accuses.

The parish (equivalent to the counties in Louisiana) of St. John the Baptist had issued voluntary and non-compulsory evacuation orders prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ida, which hit the area with winds in excess of 150 mph.

“I would really rather have been evacuated and would not have had this experience,” says Ms. Arceneaux, who wears rainbow sandals on her feet.

Her neighbor Carlo Barber, 22, was also surprised by Ida, who flooded her house with 12 centimeters of water, pelted her garden with tiles and destroyed her fence.

“When the house accepted the water, I got into my van and spent the night in the parking lot of the Home Depot,” says the blond student with the youthful face.

“It was worse than I thought. When Hurricane Isaac passed last year, we had no water in the house, ”he recalls. “We weren’t prepared for Ida, but next time we will. ”

Sunken city

Many of the streets of LaPlace were still under water or blocked by high-voltage lines, trees and blown electricity pylons on Monday.

“We saved over a hundred people,” said Jonathan Walker of the St. John Sheriff’s Department, who is driving through town in the back of an army truck.

Among the survivors is Anderson Martinez, 17, who escapes from a US National Guard helicopter that has just landed in the parking lot of an industrial park with about ten people on board, including three young children.

Anderson, her 14-year-old brother, and her mother had taken refuge in a hotel in town during Ida’s crossing. But when they tried to leave their temporary accommodation, the area was surrounded by water, which made it impossible to cross.

“The water has reached at least two meters,” he calls, pushing a cart on which all his belongings are stowed in plastic bags.

The teenager is now trying at all costs to get to her house, a 10-minute drive away, to see if she is still awake.

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