Hurricane Ida: Interviews From Our Community

Anjani Waters ‘23

At the end of August, a deadly and destructive force left many residents questioning the safety of their own hometowns. This force even resulted in the deaths of at least 40 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland. However, Louisiana, and specifically New Orleans, was hit the hardest, as they have not recovered and will not for weeks. 

Hurricane Ida, a category 4 hurricane, left about 1 million people without power in Lousiana, closing down businesses and schools like Tulane University, located right in the center of the city, for more than 6 weeks. On September 8th, “the death toll in Louisiana from Hurricane Ida rose to 26… after health officials reported 11 additional deaths in New Orleans, mostly older people who perished from the heat,” reported the Associated Press.

Joan Marie Walsh, a class of 2021 alumna who currently attends Tulane University gave us the inside scoop on the school situation in New Orleans after Ida hit. She explained that they were gone for about three weeks, joining classes through zoom, and came back on September 27th, although they weren’t actually supposed to come back until October 15th. According to Joan Marie, “it was really stressful finding out we had to leave,” although she was lucky to not be in the city during the actual hurricane like a lot of her classmates. She says that “tons of kids were stuck in their dorms when it was flooding and roofs were even falling.” Other destruction that she observed were roads and sidewalks that were “completly destroyed,” and fallen trees and powerlines.  

New Orleans has a history of hurricanes, as they are truly in a hot spot for them. It even seems as if “the volume just keeps increasing,” according to Ms. Harding, Ms. Adams’ administrative assistant, and a previous resident of New Orleans for 27 years with family and friends who are still located there. While she lived there, she explains how “sometimes (she) would have to evacuate,” but “it just became a way of life.” 

Although Ms. Harding was not personally affected by 2005’s category 5 Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Cortez, who is a math teacher in his first year at SSSAS, was living in New Orleans during Katrina along with his in-laws. “We were very, very blessed that our homes were fine,” but on another note, “it became apparent to us that schools were really an essential service.” Mr. Cortez explains how this was “one of the most interesting things that we discovered during the time we evacuated,” as his wife was a teacher in Louisiana at the time of Katrina. “We started asking, ‘Hey, when are you willing to come back?’ And every person, every family that we asked, said, ‘We're coming back as soon as you open’.” 

The effect that this disaster had on schools was something that Ms. Harding also pointed out. Like us on our first day of school, the students and faculty were in the same boat; happy to be back in person after the past year being disjointed with COVID. Until this category four hurricane came slamming through, they were just as joyful as we were to start school. But “unfortunately for their electricity situation, they can’t even zoom in”, she says. “It's just unfortunately not realistic to be able to think of something that we can do to help because of the fact that we can't directly go there.” 

Despite the major destruction this hurricane caused, Ms. Harding just recently created the “Saints Helping Saints” fundraiser through the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund for aid for the city, and more specifically the individuals affected by Ida. Although the donations have closed, the QR code below is linked to an article written by Ms. Harding talking more about the fundraiser. Scan the code using your iPhone camera if you would like more information about Saints Helping Saints!