I asked a few friends to help me share with others throughout the country what it’s really been like to experience a hurricane of the magnitude that Hurricane Ida was. For me to say this area was ravished and lives overturned is saying very little. I thought their stories would help ya’ll see a tiny little bit of what happened.
My dear friend Lisa Watts experienced this hurricane in a way a lot of us have not and I asked her to share her experience beginning the night of August 29th when Hurricane Ida came to town. Her story is different from most folks I’ve heard. A lot still haven’t seen an insurance adjuster, nor have they found anyone available to get work done already other than putting a blue tarp over the roof. Lisa knows she’s Blessed and here’s her story in her exact words and all her photos.
August 29, 2005, is engrained in all of our memories of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction she brought to Southeast Louisiana. We thought we would never experience another hurricane of that magnitude in our lives ever again. Little did we know 16 years to the day, Hurricane Ida struck Southeast Louisiana as a much stronger storm than Katrina ever was. As Louisianians, the majority of us chose to “ride it out” since we had survived Katrina, this one couldn’t be any worse right? Plus, the worst part of it was to stay to our west. As with any hurricane, they’re unpredictable and Ida changed course at the last-minute slamming Ponchatoula, Hammond, and the surrounding areas like we’ve never seen before. The destruction and devastation on the area looked like WWIII. Below is my story of Hurricane Ida and the aftermath.
My parents had just built a brand-new home seven months prior to the storm. We were all so excited to be closer to town, our family, and church families. We had just gotten settled in and received our new living room set two weeks before the storm.
They dabbled over rather to leave or not, but they ultimately decided to stay since we were in a brand-new house and weren’t at risk of flooding or anything. Mom made each one of us pack a backpack with three days of clothes, toiletries, and our medicine and had them in the front bedroom along with a bag for the dogs. Our plan was when that weather got super bad that we would go in the front bedroom, which is farthest away from the trees that were on the bank of the pond, which is an old irrigation pond when the land was strawberry fields. We went into the bedroom about 8:30 p.m. We were all camping out and trying to get some type of service on our phones to know what was going on. The wind was whipping around the house like a freight train and the rain was just pelting the windows and roof. At 9:03 p.m. we heard what we thought was a big limb that hit the house. A few minutes later my dad went to investigate and make sure everything was okay. My room is right across the hall from the guest room we were in. He hadn’t been out the room for 30 seconds when he hollered “I need some help” from my bedroom. Water was pouring through my ceiling fan all over my bed. We put buckets and even my Maw-Maw’s gumbo pot but that wasn’t enough. We knew if there was a leak in my room, which is the middle of the house, that something had to have hit the roof. Again, Dad went on an inspection run across the house and found water pouring from their ceiling fan in the master bedroom. When he got to the master bath, he saw the tree through the roof. At that point, we didn’t know what to do. The water had already started to go into the guest bedroom where we were at.
But God sent an angel in the midst of the storm! Our neighbor Kyle and his wife Megan saw the tree hit the roof, and he walked across the yard in the middle of the hurricane to make sure we weren’t hurt. He generously offered for us to come stay in an extra bedroom at their house and had no problems with us bringing the two dogs. I thought my mom was crazy when she insisted, we pack those backpacks, but they certainly came in handy. We gathered our bags and held the dogs and proceeded to run across the yard in the middle of the hurricane. It was like dodging bullets as limbs and pine cones were flying everywhere, we were soaking wet and the wind was so strong it was hard to stand up. What was really probably several yards between our house and the neighbors, it felt like it was twenty miles. It was the scariest thing my family and I have ever experienced.
We stayed at the neighbor’s house for the duration of the storm. Once the storm passed and it was daylight, we headed back to the house to observe the damage and get a few things. It was amazing that the only thing wet in my room was my bed. The nightstand and dresser weren’t even wet.
Thankfully, the water was contained to those three rooms and all we lost were our mattresses and a few things here and there. Once we got what we needed we headed west on Hwy 22 to go to my cousins. The destruction was incomprehensible. Someone had cut a path through the trees across the road so one car could get through at a time. I was in shock and didn’t even think about taking pictures. The further west we got down Hwy 22 the worse the destruction was. My sister and I stayed at my cousin’s house while my parents and cousin went searching for anything to cover the roof. Again, God provided exactly what we needed. They passed a tree company on the road and called them. They were at our house immediately and removed the tree from the house. Dad tarped the roof for the day and he, my sister and two cousins removed all the carpet in the bedrooms. He then got up on the roof the next day and put down plywood and a much thicker tarp.
Our insurance came out within a few days and they gutted the affected rooms and placed fans and dehumidifiers. All the while Dad was constantly on the phone texting and calling roofers and general contractors to get someone to come fix the structure of the roof but no one would return his texts or calls. Out of the blue a family friend, Mr. David Pevey called and went back the house to check things out. He called my dad back and told him he would have a crew out the next morning to fix the roof, and he did. Again, another God moment!
Right now, we’re in a holding pattern until the insurance adjuster comes on Saturday. The house needs shingles where they fixed it, drywall in the affected room, the whole house repainted, trim work done and doors hung and the vinyl plank wood flooring installed, which they had to pull up in the whole house with the exception of the kitchen, laundry, and pantry because mold could develop under it. It’s like DeJa’Vu looking at the house in the state it’s in now because this time last year just the studs were up. At that time, me and my family wrote Bible verses in every room in the house. The remediation team asked if we did that and my mom told him yes. He said, “We have had so much fun pulling out the sheetrock and finding these verses, they have been a blessing to us.” Who knew anyone would ever see those verses again? God knew though.
We are settled at my sister’s house in Baton Rouge while the house is being fixed. It has been a very stressful situation mentally, physically, and emotionally. However, we are BLESSED! We actually have a home that can be repaired and we can go back to. So many people completely lost their homes with multiple trees collapsing houses. God took care of us and saved our lives and has provided everything we need without looking for it. We trust that the insurance is going to cover all the repairs and our contents that we lost. We’re thankful we have a safe to live at my sisters with air, cable and internet. However, through this storm, God showed me that those things are just lagniappe. What matters most is your family and friends and the memories you share together, and most of all your relationship with the Lord and witnessing to others. We are so thankful that He will never leave us or forsake us. As hard as this has been on myself and my family our hope and trust remains in the Lord and we know He will see us through.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by the storm!
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Thank you Lisa for sharing your experience with us. Please folks pray for Lisa and her family while they are displaced and while their home restoration is done. Later, Rosalyn