Hurricane Ida leaves bayou region without water, power or hospitals for days

Houma resident says they are still ‘somewhat in shock’

By: - September 1, 2021 8:07 pm

Customers shop in O’Reilly’s Auto Parts following Hurricane Ida, despite the lack of power (Photo by JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Residents in Louisiana’s bayou country entered their fourth day without power and limited water as they dig out of the wreckage caused by Hurricane Ida.

Two of Louisiana’s most southern parishes, Terrebonne and Lafourche, were among the most heavily impacted by Ida. The storm made landfall at the southern tip of Lafourche midday Sunday as one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.

A tree and power line fallen in Houma following Hurricane Ida. (Photo by JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

“We’ve never been through any storm that looks like this and we’ve been through many storms here,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Tanner Magee, a Republican who represents Houma, Wednesday.

Government officials said there is no timeline for when power will be restored to the region and only the northern portion of Terrebonne Parish had water service Wednesday. Medical services are scarce. Four out of five of the major hospitals in the region have closed to everything but emergency room service. 

Like other parts of the state, residents are short on gasoline. Government officials are looking at setting up community stations where residents can get water and food, but it’s not clear people will have the gas to pick up the resources.

“We need water and we need fuel. That’s what we need,” said Rep. Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, who also represents Houma.

Still, parts of Houma were coming back to life Tuesday. 

Customers shop in O’Reilly’s Auto Parts following Hurricane Ida, despite the lack of power (Photo by JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Wade Choate decided to open his store, O’Reilly Auto Parts, in Houma Tuesday “mainly to help folks that need something as simple as a spark plug or a quart of oil that might help somebody save their refrigerator or freezer or keep cool.”

“We got no service, got no phone, got no nothing,” Choate said, as customers continued to come in and out.

Customers were surprised that any business in Houma — the largest city in the bayou region — was open, Choate said. The streets of the town are still covered in downed power lines and building debris following the Category 4 storm.

Despite the significant damage, Choate said he could tell his fellow residents in Houma were “somewhat in shock, but nobody’s freaking out, getting crazy or anything.”

“It doesn’t pay to do anything drastic, it is what it is,” he said.

Keith Bourgeois, a Houma resident who had shingles blown off his roof, said he was “pissed off” from the damage done to his home, but “after driving around yesterday, I saw I was more blessed than I thought and stopped me from being as pissed off.”

Bourgeois also said that the mood around town hasn’t been too somber, and he’s seen that residents are still laughing and joking.

“It’s not like this is the first hurricane we’ve ever been through,” he said.

A fallen tree on a home following Hurricane Ida. (Photo by JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator.

Driving around Houma past debris and downed power lines without working street lights has also been a struggle, Bourgeois said, especially because he said many drivers will swerve out of their lane to avoid roadblocks.

“The bad part I’m seeing is most people here don’t know how to negotiate a four-way stop,” he said. “They’ll just go through, so you have to be very careful.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.