Rural Louisiana Is Still Reeling From Ida

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New Orleans is coming back from Ida, but rural Louisiana is still reeling.

A partially collapsed building in Houma, La., after Hurricane Ida struck the region.
A partially collapsed building in Houma, La., after Hurricane Ida struck the region.Credit…John Locher/Associated Press
  • Sept. 10, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Christine Verdin received numerous photos from friends and family of the destruction Hurricane Ida brought to the rural community of Pointe-aux-Chenes, which runs along a bayou southwest of New Orleans.

But the images could not prepare Ms. Verdin, who serves on the council of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe, for the extent of the damage she found there this week.

“There are no homes,” said Ms. Verdin, who grew up in Pointe-aux-Chenes and lives nearby. Dozens of houses in the rural community were destroyed beyond habitability, with walls caved in and roofs taken clean off the top.

Seventy miles away in New Orleans, evacuees have been steadily returning this week as power was largely restored. Businesses are reopening, and families are preparing to send children to schools when they open next week.

But in rural areas south of the city that were hit hardest by the storm, the recovery stage has barely begun.

In Terrebonne Parish, where Ms. Verdin lives, 100 percent of customers remain without power, according to Entergy, the area’s main utility. In other nearby parishes, 5 percent of customers have had power restored. It will likely be weeks before residents will see power restored; in some areas, the electric network will have to be completely rebuilt, according to Entergy.

Gov. John Bel Edwards will travel to Terrebonne Parish on Friday to assess the damage. Some areas remain under boil water advisories. Debris, trees and downed power lines clutter the roads. Obtaining basic necessities like food, ice and gasoline remains a persistent challenge.

In coastal parishes, most residents can rattle off a long catalog of hurricanes they have survived. But Ms. Verdin says this one feels different.

“I’ve never seen people get this emotional,” Ms. Verdin said, adding that rebuilding is a daunting prospect for many who lack homeowners’ insurance because of high premiums. One of her family members whose home was destroyed, an uncle who is 78 years old, told her he did not have the energy or resources to rebuild.

“Normally he has a solution to everything,” Ms. Verdin said. “And this time he doesn’t.”

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