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Louisiana residents hit hard by Hurricane Ida assessing damage with little resources

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 13:38:12-04

LAPLACE, La. — Along the Gulf Coast, time is so often measured by Hurricane Katrina. But Ida, a category 4 storm that made landfall Sunday, was determined to leave her mark on Louisiana as well.

Tiffany Guidry made the decision to ride out Ida, knowing that no matter how hard her parish was hit, she'd at least be able to protect the small ice cream shop she owns there.

“If you leave, you still have to come back to the devastation,” said Guidry.

Once the storm passed, Guidry and her best friend found themselves riding an ATV through their LaPlace neighborhood, going door-to-door to check on their loved ones surrounded by water.

“No power, no running water, no Wi-Fi, no cell service. We on an island,” said Guidry.

There are parts of Louisiana that received nearly 20 inches of rain. That kind of water doesn’t just disappear overnight, and neither will the damage. It is pervasive and profound. With buildings and homes exposed to the elements, the wounds inflicted by Ida cut deep.

Patrick Matherne was left to cut up the tree which landed on his house.

“There are people that had it worse down there, lost the roof. Most of the people back there lost the back of their house,” said Matherne.

Patrick had intended to spend some time cleaning up around the house on his vacation, just not like this.

“The best thing is that this is the first day of my vacation,” said Matherne. “I just didn’t expect to be doing the outside. I thought I’d be in the inside.”

For Tashada Young, the only power or air conditioning she has is coming from her car. Dinner for an untold number of nights will come from a gas stove.

“Red beans and BBQ, trying to use what’s in the freezer before it thaws out,” said Young.

The mother of four wishes she had had the means to evacuate, but she couldn't risk getting COVID-19 in a shelter and money is tight.

“I won’t do this again. We definitely gonna leave,” said Young.

The refinery Young and hundreds of other people work at in St. John the Baptist Parish was also flooded. It represents Ida's secondary economic blow to the community where the median income is $30,000. No work means no paycheck.

“I have been in touch with my boss trying to see what resources are available,” said Young.

It is not just Young without electricity. Millions remain in the dark.

Ida took powerlines and twisted them tight, leaving crews from some 32 states to untangle the mess. Generators are working as hard as they can to provide power to levee pumps so that water in Guidry's neighborhood might finally exit.

“I can’t start cleaning until the water goes down, so no internet service, can’t even make a claim,” said Guidry.

The road back from this storm will be long. Ida's cleanup will be measured in months not days. But for all the ugliness she brought to the Gulf Coast, the beauty of the state survived unscathed.