‘Ida evacuated if I’d known’: angry locals mop up after US storm
Seeing her ceiling caved in, her garage door smashed and the basketball hoop overturned in her yard, Lxchelle Arceneaux looked on with despair at the devastation left behind by powerful Hurricane Ida, which swept through her town near New Orleans.
“My children were terrified,” the 46-year-old from LaPlace, Louisiana, said at the front door of her wrecked home. “I never heard wind like this before.”
Ms Arceneaux, her husband and children took shelter in a bedroom after Ida, which blasted ashore with winds of about 240km/h, blew in a window that they had tried to barricade with wooden planks.
“We started taking water inside from the roof. The fire alarm started ringing,” she said, her voice battling against the drone of emergency generators that were fired up after the town’s power went down.
The family tried to bale out some of the water, but did not have enough buckets.
Ms Arceneaux was angry with local authorities who, she said, had not given sufficient information on the course of the hurricane and the danger facing this city of 30,000, nestled on the east bank of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and the state capital Baton Rouge.
“We were advised of the hurricane but we didn’t know the eye of the storm had shifted closer to us,” she said.
“We didn’t receive the flash flood warning until the storm was already here. I really wish I’d have left and not experienced this,” she added.
Her neighbour, Carlo Barber, 22, was also surprised by the ferocity of Ida, which filled his house with water, scattered roof tiles all over his yard and destroyed his fence.
Many of LaPlace’s roads were still under water on Tuesday, or blocked by downed trees, power lines and toppled utility poles.
“We rescued more than a hundred people,” said Jonathan Walker, a local deputy at the sheriff’s office.