As Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on Sunday night, Daryian Hudson made a desperate appeal on Twitter.
“Please help me, yall” she tweeted publicly at 11:07 p.m., along with the address of her grandparents, Evelina and Elliott Leblanc, who she said were stuck in their attic at LaPlace, along the east bank of the Mississippi River. The couple are 70 years old and live with their puppy.
Hudson explained in a series of tweets from Houston, where she lives, that she and her family contacted the Cajun Navy, volunteer boat owners who help with disaster relief, but were told that because As all of LaPlace was inundated, a team couldn’t be sent to his grandparents until Monday morning.
Hudson said his grandparents spoke to relatives just before the water started flowing in their home. LaPlace is northwest of New Orleans.
“So at that point they were calm, but 10 minutes later we got a call from my aunt telling us they had to go to a safe place in the house,” she said.
By that time, the water had reached 5 feet in their home, Hudson said. Her grandparents, who had no electricity or cell phone service, rushed into their attic with their dog. Hudson said she instinctively asked for help on Twitter.
“My immediate thought was to spread the word so I could get help,” she said. “And after that there was so much support.”
His initial plea was retweeted more than 2,600 times early Monday afternoon, and many people responded with advice.
The Leblancs waited in their attic for about 12 hours – from 9 p.m. to about 9 a.m. – before being rescued by a family who live about an hour from New Orleans, Hudson said.
The couple, after sustaining extensive damage to their home, were now “in a safe place,” Hudson said.
Randal Gaines, a state representative who represents the parishes of Saint-Charles and Saint-Jean-Baptiste, called the damage “catastrophic”.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been in the parish,” he said on Monday. “And we saw several hurricanes.”
According to the Times-Picayune, the populations of Saint-Charles and Saint-Jean-Baptiste parishes increased after Hurricane Katrina. LaPlace, with a population of 29,000, is the largest town in the parish of St. John the Baptist.
“We are told that there has been a regional population change in our leadership because of Katrina,” Natalie Robottom, who served as president of St. John the Baptist from May 2010 to January 2020, told The Times. -Picayune in February 2011. “People came here after the storm because we were the first place with the lights on. They stayed because there was affordable housing and good public and private schools.”
About 52.1 percent of LaPlace residents are black or African American and about 41 percent are white, according to recent census data.
The damage Ida left was the result of strong and intense winds that lasted four to five hours, he said.
“And as you can see, the results are that a lot of that water has flowed back into the area because of the tide that resulted from the storm coming in from the south,” Gaines said. He estimated that the recovery effort could last for weeks.
“The material damage is glaring,” he said. “Each neighbor suffered a significant amount of property damage.”
Hudson, 19, was born in New Orleans and moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina hit the area with devastating force in August 2005. She is a student at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge.
She said her grandparents, who lived in New Orleans much of their life, moved to LaPlace about 20 years ago. They are among those in the community who have asked for a levee to improve the drainage system in LaPlace and surrounding areas, Hudson said.
Malik Mitchell said that, like the Leblancs, the mother of her 2-month-old daughter took refuge with the child in an attic after being trapped in waist-deep water inside a home sunday.
He said between the strong winds, heavy rains and downed trees, it was difficult to see anything or run away on Sunday.
“There was nothing they could do,” he said. “They all thought they were going to die.”
The water eventually receded from the attic. Mitchell said he was grateful his daughter and mother made it through the night.