New Orleans residents anticipate Hurricane Ida with fatalism

(New Orleans) Music escapes from a bar when Greg McNeely, screwdriver in hand, attaches wooden planks to the red and black window front of a lingerie shop in New Orleans – Orleans, where Hurricane Ida will hit Sunday.

Posted on Aug 29, 2021 at 9:42 am

Daxia ROJAS Agence France-Presse

“I’m worried, but I’m not afraid,” the 57-year-old blows with gray temples. “We’re not going to fly away like the Wizard of Oz,” he jokes, although, according to the US weather service, Ida could carry 150 mph wind.

Mr McNeely said he was more concerned about the potential power outages than the hurricane itself.

When Katrina died 16 years ago, “we haven’t had electricity for months,” recalls the entrepreneur who lives in Metairie in the northwest suburb of New Orleans.

Sandbags

A few blocks away, near Canal Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the city center, Eric Suriano, with the help of his two sons Austin, 21 and Edward, 16, places bags of sand and gravel on the doorstep of his watch repair shop.

PHOTO PATRICK T. FALLON, AFP

Shops are barricaded on Canal Street

“We are preparing for floods, but also for looting,” explains AFP Mr Suriano, 60 years old and with a gold chain around his neck, who in 2005 saw 1.5 meters of water pouring into his shop. with Hurricane Katrina.

Although many shops are closed and barricaded, the bars in the famous French Quarter are still open and tourists strolling around their necks with a glass of alcohol in hand and pearl necklaces make one forget that an extreme climatic episode is about to begin in Louisiana’s largest city.

“I walk around and see that the people are not ready yet,” complains Reginald Young, who has lived in the region for 35 years. “You don’t take it seriously! He continues.

As if to agree with him, Isiah Theophile, 31, is playing chess with a friend in the street. Ida’s imminent arrival leaves him unaffected.

“I think it’s going to be a mighty hurricane, but the media is very exaggerated. It won’t be as bad as with Katrina, ”says the Iraq veteran. Katrina flooded 80% of the city after breaking multiple levees and killing more than 1,800 people across the state.

Unlike the thousands of people who evacuated New Orleans and caused massive traffic jams on Saturday, Isiah intends to stay with his eighty-year-old grandmother to “protect” her.

“I love my city and I will stay,” he claims as he moves a white knight on the chessboard.

Real test

Staying in place is Ed Joyner’s goal too, but more by default than out of envy. Originally from Philadelphia, he is one of the unfortunate tourists stranded there because of the hurricane.

“I’m not afraid, I’ve already seen Hurricane Sandy,” which devastated the American east coast in 2012, he says with a smile. His program: watch films and relax in his hotel in the French Quarter, located above sea level.

“I’ve spoken to locals who said it shouldn’t be that bad. If they don’t care, why should I be stressed? Says Joyner, who visits New Orleans for the first time.

However, the American hurricane center has warned of the danger of a “major hurricane”. This strengthens Ida in category 4, on a scale of 5.

“If he changes course and goes east, we’ll all cry on Monday,” predicts Greg McNeely. “This will be the first real test since Katrina to see if our levees are holding. ”

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