Survivor recounts narrowly escaping Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida left behind a trail of destruction and heartache in Houma, Louisiana. 

Theophilus Charles rode out the Category 4 hurricane inside his childhood home, watching as it was ripped apart. “It would sound like a freight train was coming through,” the 70-year-old said. “The house started vibrating.” 

“That’s the first time I ever got scared about being in that house,” Charles added. “I was going to stay alive one way or another, even if I had to turn the sofa over on top of me. I was going to survive this.” 

Even with his roof gone, his kitchen destroyed and no running water, Charles is still living in his home.

“I got to stay here for now just to make sure. And I don’t want nobody coming in here,” he said. 

After living in his trailer for 21 years, Ida left Frank Marshall with nothing. “That’s what scares me, you know. No family,” he said through tears. 

More than 30,000 people in Houma are without power or clean running water. Over a million in Southeast Louisiana could be without power for up to a month, officials warned, and Ida left nearly 60,000 customers in the dark in Southern Mississippi. It will take days to assess the full damage to power transmission lines and much longer to make repairs.

At least four deaths have been blamed on the storm, including two in Mississippi where sections of a highway collapsed.

In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards is warning evacuees not to return home. “If you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in Southeast Louisiana until the Office of Emergency Preparedness tells you it is ready to receive you,” Edwards told reporters Tuesday. 

“The schools are not open, the businesses are not open, the hospitals are slammed. There’s not water in your home and there’s not going to be electricity. So let’s get you where you can be safe and somewhat comfortable.”


Omar Villafranca contributed reporting.