IRONTON, La. (AP) – Audrey Trufant Salvant’s Louisiana home has been reduced to an isolated island by the mud and snake-infested marshgrass. Nearby homes are not connected to their foundations. A refrigerator is stuck sideways in a tree and there are many caskets and tombs scattered across the lawns. The entire town is without running water and power.
The devastating effects of Hurricane Ida’s Category 4 storm continue to affect communities along the state’s southeast coast. They are still experiencing power outages and water shortages one month after the hurricane roared onto the shores with 150-mph winds.
Trufant Salvant is one of many who are now staying with family members until they can return to their homes. She said that some people are now staying in hotels, or even leaving the state. While some residents returned to their homes to retrieve any belongings that survived the flood, she said they don’t have much salvageable because the storm surge caused by Ida reached as high as the roofs of some homes.
She said, “The day they allowed people to return in here was like a funeral.” “Everybody was just devastated, because we had not seen such devastation before…
While churches and charity groups are doing their best to help, there isn’t enough money available to cover the entire area of Ida-hit Southeast Louisiana.
Nearly empty is the United Way of New Orleans headquarters’ storage room, usually full of donated food, water and cleaning supplies to residents of storm-battered areas. Williamson stated that donations have not been as rapid to come in than previous storms. They are also smaller and less frequent, which means there isn’t enough to meet demand.
He said that tarps are a must-have item for cleaning supplies, such as buckets, bleach, mops, and rakes.
The United Way also manages unique cases such as Warren Myers’ 5-year-old daughter with special needs, Ameah. Warren is a firefighter and requires a specific formula through a feeding tube. Also, Ameah requires medication to control seizures and diapers. These are all expensive and difficult to find since Ida.
Crystal Hagger, Myers’ fiancee and caretaker for Ameah, stated that the shelves of stores have been less stocked and that deliveries have not arrived as frequently as usual.
Ameah cannot stand or walk independently so her parents carry her around with them, either on their backs or in their arms.
Recently, the United Way informed the family that a donor was available to fit Ameah into a wheelchair.
Hagger said, with a choked voice, that every little act of kindness makes a difference. “We are extremely grateful.”
It is evident that there is a need everywhere.
Trufant Salvant’s home in Ironton is one of eight houses that have not been flooded by Ida’s floodwaters. She was able to raise the house 12 feet (3.6 meters) from the ground following Hurricane Katrina. While sitting on a stool, she spoke to a stranger in an area below the house that had been cleared from mud and other debris.
Other nearby houses had moved or were shifting completely. After the floodwaters receded one house was left in the middle.
She said, “This one hit us harder than Katrina.”
Williamson predicts that the recovery from Ida could take years. The families who were able return are still in various stages. They wait for the insurance adjusters and federal funds to arrive to assess the damage.
Justin and Lesley Landry from Lafitte hope to be granted grant funds to raise their home. It was built approximately 2 feet (0.61m) above the ground in 1980s, and has never been flooded since Ida.
One year after the storm, the couple were married on Aug. 29, 2020. Ida got a gift for their anniversary: almost 2 feet of water in their home. Ida’s floodwaters rose to the point that they reached 4 feet (1.2m) from the walls of their house and a shed nearby. Justin is almost at his chest height. The tidal wave was likely higher at the height of the storm.
The Landrys had to return home four days later in order to salvage their few possessions in the three-bedroom house. This included a handful unopened wedding presents that were on an upper shelf in one closet.
Justin and a friend removed the parts of the house that had flooded or were growing mold. This was approximately 4 feet below each wall. He stated that the hardest part of his job was to demolish his daughter’s nursery. It was just what he had put together before Ida arrived. The walls were painted in pastel blue and half of the curtains are gone. Muddy floodwater has also stained the bottom of the drapes white. Baby Adley arrived in the world two weeks ago.
Justin stated that he was trying to remain positive. “Some people don’t even have a house anymore.”
Trufant Salvant claimed that despite the severe hardships she has experienced, she couldn’t imagine living elsewhere. She is part of the fifth generation in a small family that has been living in Plaquemines for more than 200 year. Many of her relatives are buried in the cemetery, including a brother who was buried one day before Ida arrived.
“As horrible as it may seem, it does happen. “This is my home,” she stated. “I just feel this earthly attachment to this piece.