Ida recovery drags on for some St. John Parish residents

Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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LAPLACE, La. (WVUE) - For some St. John the Baptist Parish homeowners, the second anniversary of Hurricane Ida finds them still living in travel trailers. Efforts to fully rebuild their homes have taken longer than they ever imagined.

When Ida slammed southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2021, floodwaters raced into LaPlace neighborhoods. The winds of the powerful hurricane made their mark on the community as well.

And, two years later, the scars of Ida remain on many homes that sit in tidy neighborhoods.

For Dana Jenkins, the memories of a flooded community with no electricity came flooding back as she stood near the trailer in her front yard.

“We couldn’t get back for like 30 days-plus,” Jenkins said. “When we got back, we experienced the damp, the wet, the moisture still in there.”

She said some family members still sleep in the trailer and others in portions of her home that have been repaired.

“We do still live in there, because everything isn’t complete,” she said. “So, we have some of us stay in the trailer and two of us stay in the back that’s done and complete. We started doing that in May.”

She said she did not think rebuilding would take so long.

“I didn’t know the process and I think it’s a lot of grieving for me, because when you have to go through your things, it’s very grievous, especially on top of if you’ve lost people,” Jenkins said. “That person’s no longer here and I’ve lost the memorial to them, and you can’t replace that.”

Brandy Frank lives in another LaPlace neighborhood. She and her family are still sleeping in the trailer situated on her lawn.

“The recovery after Ida has been stressful,” Frank said. “I’m mainly fighting with my insurance company to get enough funding to cover the damages to my property. We are currently still in the camper. We have been getting extensions, because at this point, my home is still not livable.”

She said she continues to face insurance issues.

“Because I’m not in a flood zone, I did not have flood insurance. But my home did flood,” Frank said. “My insurance company is fighting me on the fact that everything that was damaged was damaged from the ground up. But the gables on my house, both sides of my home, flew off far before the floodwaters came in.”

Like flooding, power outages are persistent concerns for many people in southeast Louisiana when there are storm threats.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) says the trillion-dollar federal infrastructure law he helped craft provides billions to tackle the nation’s aged electrical grid.

“We also see that we can build resiliency, and that’s our challenge,” Cassidy said. “How do we make it so that if another storm comes -- and they will -- we’re better prepared, the lights are on, the ground is dry?”

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