Hurricane Veterans Were Stunned by Ida: ‘It’s Never Been as Bad’

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Some tiny towns extracurricular New Orleans were inundated. Trapped residents waited for daylight, erstwhile rescue boats could marque their mode done the floodwaters.

Evacuees consoled each   different   aft  leaving Jean Lafitte, La. The authorities had rescued much  than 70 radical   successful  Jean Lafitte and surrounding communities.
Credit...Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Aug. 30, 2021, 7:55 p.m. ET

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Jordan Roque pulled his Chevy pickup motortruck onto the past agelong of road extracurricular of municipality that was not inundated by h2o connected Monday, hauling an airboat. Hurricane Ida had turned the roadworthy into a makeshift vessel launch, and Mr. Roque was connected a ngo to find his relatives.

His aunt and uncle, Diane and Buddy Nolan, had ridden retired the fierce Category 4 tempest astatine location successful the hardy sportfishing colony of Jean Lafitte. No 1 had heard from the Nolans since Sunday morning, and present the village, on with overmuch of the southeastern Louisiana bayou area, was underwater.

The authorities had rescued much than 70 radical successful Jean Lafitte and the surrounding communities, said Cynthia Lee Sheng, the Jefferson Parish president, aft 8 feet of h2o overtopped levees, sending respective 100 radical into attics and onto roofs. At slightest 1 person, an older woman, died successful her home, Ms. Lee Sheng said. The parish had received much than 200 calls for rescue since Sunday.


Credit...Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Across the way of Ida’s destruction, the weathered and storm-weary radical of the bluish Gulf Coast waded retired of flooded communities connected Monday and surveyed the harm near by 1 of the astir fearsome hurricanes to onslaught the portion since Katrina 16 years ago. New Orleans and its hardened tempest infrastructure appeared to person held up, though the metropolis had nary electricity. But with parts of Louisiana inactive unreachable, the afloat grade of the wreckage remained unclear.

“It’s ne'er been arsenic atrocious arsenic it is this time,” said Jesse Touro, 62, who was rescued from Jean Lafitte aft riding retired storms successful municipality for the past 12 years. He sounded exhausted arsenic helium rode a parish autobus to find immoderate benignant of shelter. “None of them similar this one,” helium repeated.

Several tiny towns successful the confederate fractional of the parish, extracurricular the elephantine tempest extortion strategy encircling New Orleans and immoderate of its suburbs, were inundated. Dozens of residents watched arsenic floodwaters advanced, waiting for rescues that did not commencement until daybreak.

New Orleans itself had been bruised but not beaten. Tree limbs and debris clogged the streets from the Bywater vicinity to Uptown. In the French Quarter, the streets seemed to person been washed astir clean. A fewer New Orleanians had begun venturing retired to locomotion their dogs, thrust bikes and measure the authorities of things aboriginal connected Monday. Though the metropolis looked sturdy and adust connected the outside, galore of the problems were unfolding indoors, wherever the lights could beryllium retired for days.


Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York Times

In Houma, a tiny metropolis astir 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, Craig Adams, 53, had planned to walk Saturday nighttime successful his beige trailer, but his girl begged him astatine 9 p.m., arsenic the storm’s accomplishment was imminent, to question structure determination sturdier. On Monday, helium was thankful she had. The two-bedroom trailer was wrecked, with lone the air-conditioner intact among piles of mangled furniture, room supplies and idiosyncratic belongings.

“Every small happening that I owned and had, it’s gone,” Mr. Adams said. “I’m going to person to commencement each implicit again. You ever spot different radical going done this connected the news. You ne'er deliberation it’s going to beryllium you — until it is.”

Grand Isle, a constrictive beachy islet of stilt-raised homes facing the Gulf of Mexico, adjacent wherever Ida came ashore, could not beryllium reached by road, which was underwater, oregon by air, due to the fact that determination was obscurity for a chopper to land, said Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III of Jefferson Parish.

He sent the chopper anyhow to spot if it could spot his 10 deputies who remained successful a bunker connected the isle during the storm. There were reports that its extortion had blown off. But the deputies gave the chopper unit a thumbs up connected Monday, Sheriff Lopinto said successful an interrogation with WWL radio. He told The New York Times helium mightiness person his squad driblet radios by chopper truthful deputies connected the isle could communicate.


Credit...Emily Kask for The New York Times

Ms. Lee Sheng estimated that astir 40 radical had chosen not to evacuate Grand Isle.

In Jean Lafitte, a colony of astir 2,000 people, astir 400 residents initially refused the mandatory evacuation order, according to the sheriff. But helium expected less really stayed erstwhile they saw Ida’s strength.

“We did rescue missions each today,” Sheriff Lopinto said. “But the h2o has stabilized. It’s not coming anymore. In fact, it’s receding.”

Some of those who stayed down inactive had nary plans to leave. Cody Lauricella, a 30-year-old autochthonal of bayou country, sailed the 19-foot sportfishing trawler helium usually uses to drawback trout and flounder backmost and distant to Jean Lafitte passim the time to assistance radical get out. He went each the mode to little Lafitte, helium said, but recovered fewer takers for a vessel ride.

“There are a batch of radical that are inactive determination and OK, sitting connected the porch, waving astatine us,” Sheriff Lopinto said. “It’s portion of surviving successful this community. They recognize that.”


Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York Times

Mr. Roque felt definite his aunt and uncle, whom helium lovingly described arsenic “hippies,” would beryllium each right. “They person bully cognition of what they’re doing,” helium said. Their house, similar others successful the village, was elevated, and their neighbour had a boat.

But helium disquieted anyway.

“They were being stubborn — everyone told them to leave, but they were like, ‘Oh, we’re staying,’” Mr. Roque, 23, said. “We conscionable privation to marque sure.”

LaPlace, a municipality of quiescent subdivisions connected the eastbound slope of the Mississippi River wherever galore evacuees from New Orleans settled aft Katrina, saw galore of those homes mangled and streets flooded by Ida. On Whitlow Court, a portion of mobile homes, each motortruck attempting to thrust down the thoroughfare stirred a wake. The h2o was out. So was the electricity. No 1 had cellphone service.

David Sanford, who has lived successful the vicinity for 8 years, considered himself thing of a hurricane veteran, having lived connected the Florida coast, successful Pensacola, earlier moving to Louisiana. Even so, Ida terrified him. The tempest had his mobile location vibrating — past it popped a skylight implicit the bathroom, dumping h2o inside.


Credit...Emily Kask for The New York Times

“It was conscionable rough,” Mr. Sanford, 64, recounted, sitting backmost connected a adust spot astatine the extremity of the thoroughfare connected Monday. “This 1 close present was the worst 1 I’ve been in.” The upwind was howling, helium said, and seemed to ne'er stop. “It didn’t slack up astatine all,” helium said.

Lea Joseph took her children to effort to slumber successful the trembling car erstwhile the powerfulness went out; the upwind was whipping her house, uprooting trees and peeling extortion shingles.

“I felt atrocious due to the fact that I should person near with my kids,” she said. “I’m scared. My lad is crying. He kept asking, ‘When is the oculus passing, erstwhile is the oculus passing?’”

Her 13-year-old son, Cesar, showed videos helium had shared with friends connected Snapchat of the upwind and h2o descending connected the family’s home. In them, his 11-year-old brother, Juan, kept calling out, “Hold the door, clasp the door,” terrified of the storm’s bluster.

“I was crying,” Juan recalled arsenic helium stood connected the flooded street, the h2o lapping implicit his rubber boots.

“Never again,” Ms. Joseph said. “Never again.”

Richard Fausset reported from Jefferson Parish, La., Rick Rojas from LaPlace, La., and Patricia Mazzei from Miami. Edgar Sandoval contributed reporting from Houma, La.

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