Posts Tagged ‘hurricane Ida’

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I want to share with you this latest article by Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review because it begins to touch the surface of why I love Louisiana and also about how we are recovering from Hurricane Ida.

The southern part of Louisiana, west to east, has dealt with devastating hurricane and storm damage over the past couple of years. It seems that Katrina is the one everyone talks about but that was in 2005. Meanwhile, Hurricane Laura (August 2020) and then Delta (October 2020) followed by historic flooding rains in May 2021, have left Lake Charles, Louisiana literally devastated. Hurricane Ida came along this year and hit the southeastern coast of Louisiana and there are still people without power in some of the more remote areas of SE Louisiana.

Why do we stay? Why don’t we leave and go where we don’t have to worry about such things?

Kathryn Lopez’s piece helps put that in perspective a bit:

In storm-damaged Louisiana, there is not victimhood, but resilience and gratitude. I asked an Uber driver — a single mom of two who had to quit her job as a schoolteacher during the height of COVID to help her children with their at-home school — whether it’s hard living in Louisiana. “Not at all,” she said. “Life always has its challenges, but God is good, and our lives are gifts, and we must live them in love of and trust in Him.” That witness of the people I meet in Louisiana [ … ] is a challenge to the rest of us, who can get caught up in so many things that we don’t have all that much control over.

So true.

Don’t get me wrong: people down there need help. They need those donations of tarps and water that are pouring in. Those huge pots of jambalaya and gumbo that are feeding families, linemen, clean-up volunteers, all of that is appreciated.

But the only thing to do is to clean up and rebuild. I had an aunt that lived in Lake Charles when I was a child; they rebuilt their home several times and never left.

 The Cajun people are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. Survival is in their DNA. So is joie de vivre, hospitality, and warmth.

I think about these values often when we travel to that part of the state; we stay five weeks of the year in south Louisiana and I am always impressed by the strong communities, the strong family unit, and the pure faith that these people have. Yes, there are problems, but as Lopez says, we learn to trust in God, to see what tomorrow brings.

Lopez is correct. I don’t think anybody down there feels like a victim. These storms may dampen spirits and slow us down for a minute but pack your suitcase and come on down: the hotels are open, the boudin is hot, and the music is floating up through the trees. You might see more blue tarps on roofs and hear more chainsaws and pounding hammers, but Louisiana is bouncing back better than ever.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Hurricane Ida has finally come and now has left Louisiana, but she is travelling through the eastern states leaving storms and plenty of water in her path.

The predictions for this storm were dire in the days leading up to landfall: “worst storm in Louisiana history!” said one, and “bigger than Katrina!” said others. As landfall was predicted on the sixteen-year anniversary of Katrina, comparisons were inevitable.

As the storm approached the coast, the cone consistently shifted to the east just a little more with every new track. This eventually took my beloved Acadiana region out of danger, and Shreveport, up in the NW corner was never really in danger. We spend a lot of time in Arnaudville and the Acadiana region, and we have a lot of friends there, so we watched the progress with a lot of anxiety.

The storm made landfall as a high-end Cat 4 about noon Sunday; it was hard to concentrate on the sermon in church yesterday. Wind gusts in places were as high as 180 mph when the storm hit Port Fourchon; I read where 28 people chose to ride out the hurricane in Grand Isle. This is akin to suicide in my mind. I don’t know how many of them survived. When the storm made landfall it briefly reversed the direction of the Mississippi River.

The only way to get any reliable news or information yesterday was via live streams of local channels. The Weather Channel was a joke. There was Jim Cantore standing in the French Quarter, braced against the wind as if he was about to fly off while two guys walked the sidewalk behind him sipping coffee. In another shot, Cantore is again braced in the street and another guy runs into the back of the camera shot and turns a cartwheel.  The only positive about that coverage to me was the humor factor in listening to the broadcasters mispronounce Louisiana place names. Houma, Louisiana (prounounced HOME ah) became HOOOOM ah for example. The news anchor did everything she could to avoid saying Atchafalaya and Tchoupitoulas.

This morning as damage is assessed, the Cajun Navy is busy making rescues. Levees were overtopped in some places and people have flooded. LaPlace, Louisiana is completely underwater and impassable. An Entergy tower fell into the Mississippi River leaving NOLA without power; this is expected to be a problem for weeks. It also means that 911 is down.

Damage assessment is ongoing. While some areas are obviously flooded, luckily we are not seeing the massive flooding that we did with Katrina. The damage is extensive of course and cleanup will take a long time. Lake Charles, over on the Louisiana/Texas border, still has not recovered from the triple shot of storms they endured in the last twelve months, the biggest being Hurricane Laura.  Nobody expects this to be fixed soon.

In our area we have a lot of evacuees in shelters anxious to return home. Officials are asking everyone to be patient. There are no sanitary services in most places, no water, no power. The death toll will certainly climb; it is early yet.

If you’d like to help, Catholic Charities of Acadiana has an Amazon Wish List and is assisting with disaster relief. The Cajun Navy is also requesting help. Prayers are good, too!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.