Hurricane Ida heaped destruction and mayhem in the Gulf Coast states on August 29 and the massive storm impacted relatives and friends of Los Angeles-area residents.
According to the National Weather Service, Ida tore through southern Louisiana and Mississippi demolishing homes, buildings and other structures along with triggering heavy flooding across huge swaths of land. Also, electrical power was knocked out, eliminating lighting as well as air conditioning relief from the intense heat and humidity, plus rendering cell phone service inoperable.
Interestingly, the cyclone landed on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which hit on August 29, 2005, but imparted much more devastation. Katrina wrecked New Orleans’ levee system, flooded 80% of the city and caused the deaths of more than 1,800 people.
With that memory in mind combined with shocking images broadcast by news media, people in greater L.A. frantically reached out to family members in the affected states seeking the status of loved ones.
Among those pursing information was Long Beach resident Ivan Tircuit, who has an aunt and several cousins in the New Orleans area.
“I’m waiting to hear from my cousin, Alvin Tircuit Jr., who lives in the 7th Ward (in New Orleans) on Hope Street between Saint Anthony and Pauger,” Ivan said on August 31. “I haven’t been able to have a really, intelligible conversation with him since about 9:45 p.m., New Orleans time, on Sunday, August 29, because of the disruption to cell phone service in the area.
“The last time we talked about the nature of the storm, he told me that the wind was really bad. So, I think that he might have been worried about roof damage. But he was holding out hope that improvements to the levee system would prevent Katrina-like flooding.”
While hoping that his other cousins were surviving in the midst of the sizzling, muggy environment, Ivan still conveyed gratitude that his Aunt Gloria Tircuit, an octogenarian, had traveled to the South Carolina home of his cousin, Cathy Henderson, before Hurricane Ida struck. Another relative, Peter Tircuit, and his wife, Kendra, escaped to Georgia, settling near Ivan’s cousin, Jason Tircuit, a resident of the state.
Also evacuating before the storm was his niece, Sanai Frierson, a student and cheerleader at Louisiana State University. Explaining the challenges Frierson faced, Ivan said she initially tried to drive to Austin, Texas, but the roads were “at a standstill with traffic.” Fortunately, she adjusted her route to Destin, Florida where she safely arrived.
“The damage to her area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was enough for her coach to cancel cheerleading activities for now, so my niece is flying back to California until they resume. We all have our fingers crossed hoping that our family who are still in New Orleans don’t suffer too much and that things get back to normal as soon as possible,” he added.
Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny Bakewell, Sr., and Chief Operating Officer Pamela Bakewell, who hail from New Orleans, finally connected to receive an update on their family. One of their relatives in New Orleans wrote a text message on August 30 to Sentinel Executive Editor Danny Bakewell, Jr., outlining the state of various kinfolks.
“We’re good down here! I know you are worried because you haven’t heard from us, but that’s only because we don’t have phone reception. ATT service is down, and that’s what we all have. I can only text or call when my phone is on a Wi-Fi connection,” said his Aunt Charly.
She credited her neighbor’s generator with allowing her to link up with Wi-Fi, but noted, “When I leave here, I won’t be able to communicate.” Charly also reported the good news that the properties of their New Orleans’ relatives suffered from none-to-minimal damage.
“Aside from no communication and no electricity, we’re good! It’s not hot, so that’s a blessing. Stop worrying, we’re good, and we’ll give you guys a call when our phones are up and running. Love you,” she shared.
As of August 31, the damage to the area included more than 1 million people without power, substantial infrastructure loss, high amounts of plant destruction and widespread flooding. Four deaths were directly tied to Hurricane Ida and another fatality was designated as an indirect result because the person was killed by an alligator while walking through floodwaters caused by Ida.
In light of the serious situation, Bakewell Sr. said in a statement, “I, like many other native New Orleanians, have been closely monitoring the Hurricane Ida situation. I have been in contact with both family and friends who still live in New Orleans. Many of my friends and family did leave the area for safer grounds to ensure that they would not suffer the same devastation that they suffered during and after Hurricane Katrina. I have also been in contact with several local leaders who are working directly with New Orleans Mayor Cantrell to ensure that the residents of the city have the necessary resources and services they so desperately need.
“The Biden/Harris administration has been closely monitoring the situation as well and I applaud their efforts to do everything possible to get the city back to normalcy as quickly as possible. At this point, all we can do is continue to monitor the situation and as things unfold, provide as much help as possible to any affected by the storm,” advised Bakewell, Sr.