Despair and anger in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida

Collapsed ceiling, smashed garage door, overturned basketball hoop: Lxchelle Arceneaux watches with despair on Monday the havoc Hurricane Ida wreaked overnight on his home in the town of LaPlace, west of New Orleans.

My children were terrified“, tells AFP the 46-year-old woman, dressed all in blue on the threshold of her home.”I had never heard gusts of wind like this.

Mme Arceneaux had taken refuge with her husband and her children in her bedroom when the force of the wind broke a window which was barricaded as best it could with a plank of wood and tape.

Water began to seep inside from the roof. The fire alarms started roaring“, she continues, explaining to have tried to evacuate the rain with buckets.”We didn’t have enough containers“, she adds, the sound of her voice covered by the noise of the generators, the whole city having the electricity cut.

Around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, part of its ceiling sagged, pouring downpours into his living room, the humidity bubbles still being visible on Monday on his white wallpaper.


Lxchelle Arceneaux is angry with the authorities who, according to it, had not given enough information on the trajectory of the hurricane and the danger facing this city of 30,000 inhabitants, nestled on the east bank of the Mississippi River between the New -Orléans and the capital of Louisiana, Baton-Rouge.

We knew there was a hurricane but not that the eye of the storm had moved towards us“, she explains with exasperation.”We only received the flood alert when the hurricane was already there“, she accuses.

The parish (equivalent of counties in Louisiana) of St. John the Baptist had issued voluntary and non-mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ida, which hit the area with blowing winds. at over 240 km / h.

I really would have preferred to evacuate and not have this experience“, launches 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, threw tiles all over her garden and destroyed her fence.

When the house got wet I got in my pickup and spent the night in the Home Depot parking lot“, famous American brand of DIY, details 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 remembers.”We weren’t prepared for Ida but next time we will.

Submerged city

Many of LaPlace’s roads were still submerged in water on Monday, or blocked by high-voltage lines, trees and blown-out utility poles.

We have rescued over a hundred people“said Jonathan Walker, of the Sheriff’s Department of St John, who rides around the city in the back of an army truck.

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

Anderson, her 14-year-old brother, and their mother, had taken refuge in a hotel in the city during Ida’s passage. But when they wanted to leave their makeshift accommodation the surroundings were surrounded by water, making crossing impossible.

The water has reached at least two meters“, he exclaims while pushing a cart where all his things are stored in plastic bags.

The teenager is now trying to reach her house at any cost, a 10-minute drive away, to see if she is still up.

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