I was just seven years old when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana in 2005. I don’t remember much of the storm, the evacuation process, or evacuation in general. For my parents, however, all those details are still vividly imprinted on their minds.
“That was a drive of uncertainty,” said my mom, Lasoyna Rivers. “We didn’t know the storm would tear the Gulf Coast and New Orleans that badly.”
After the storm passed and my parents were given the OK to return to LaPlace, their trip back home became a dreadful one.
“I won’t lie to you,” said my father, Irvin Rivers. “I am normally a strong individual for my family so y’all could be at ease, but even I dreaded going back home. Thankfully, we had minor damage such as shingles which had fallen off the roof and losing our fence in the backyard.”
My mother said compared with “the videos and pictures we saw from New Orleans, our house received minor damage.”
But Hurricane Ida changed everything.
The Saturday before Hurricane Ida made landfall, we contemplated whether we should ride this one out or evacuate.
The pandemic had caused financial burdens on our family and it was with that in mind, we decided to ride out the storm. Even so, my cousin — “the persistent one” — insisted we evacuate to Arkansas and we heeded the advice.
We packed our things for three days and two nights, expecting minimal damages in our neighborhood in Laplace, and hearing as meteorologists said “this will be a moving storm.” On Sunday, when saw the news — broadcasters sang a different tune.
We sat in silence. Shocked. We watched the coverage intently. My mom said she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe that this storm had slowed down and hovered over Laplace and the other river parishes.”
But what made us feel even more hopeless was the so-called “doom scrolling,” on social networking platforms Twitter and Facebook, and hearing the news that our neighborhood had gotten hit the worst. On social media, many people in our neighborhood were posting their addresses or the addresses of their loved ones, who had not evacuated, and asking for help.
Many said they were sheltering in the attic or on the roof of their homes, trying to stay safe from the constantly rising waters. My mom said she recalls spending “that entire night calling family and friends to see how they were” and trying to make sure they were OK.
“But all we got were emergency dial tones and calls going straight to voicemail,” she said.
We were later able to get in touch with some family and friends, including our neighbor who took a picture of our house for us and sent it our way via text.
For us, seeing that picture of our house and the damage it received was extremely gut-punching. We had lost the fence again in the backyard and an entire section of shingles came off our roof again, too. And from what we could see, it seemed as though our chimney was ripped right off the roof, which probably means there’s water flooding the inside of our house. Even now, we are still not really sure of the entirety of the damages.
We’ve agreed it’s best to journey back to Laplace and see our house with our own eyes. What the plan will be after that… well, that’s all still up in the air. But we are trying to remain hopeful, remain faithful, keep on praying and being thankful for the little things, like knowing we are each other’s home.