Louisiana woman fleeing from hurricane still waiting to go home

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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A New Orleans woman who came to LaGrange last week as an evacuee is still staying in the area as her home city begins to rebuild from Hurricane Ida.

As she waits for news that she can return home, the woman, Keyon Williams, has been communicating with relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to organize their housing arrangements and to receive additional aid during her stay in the area.

Williams came to LaGrange with her three children and a host of other relatives as a total group of 15 people when Hurricane Ida was at its peak.

Originally, Williams had planned to bunk with an aunt who lived in the area, but due to the size of her group and health concerns from the ongoing COVID pandemic, the aunt was unable to take her in. Instead, the family has been staying in hotel rooms in town, funded by themselves and relatives across the country.

As of Monday, Williams gained assistance from FEMA to obtain a temporary hotel room stay for herself and her three children. Her step-mother and a few other family members who initially came to LaGrange a few days after Williams are still in communication with FEMA to receive aid, Williams said.

Williams additionally received aid from the American Red Cross after it set up a temporary shelter for Hurricane Ida evacuees traveling through the area last week.

The shelter was closed on Friday, said Holly Winner, executive director of the Central Midwest Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross. The organization decided to move to appointment-based conversations with its clients in lieu of a walk-in approach.

During their stay in LaGrange, Williams and her group have been keeping in touch with acquaintances in New Orleans to find out when it will be safe to return home, Williams said.

“Everybody who has gone back has told me to stay where you are,” she said.

She added that the newly formed Hurricane Larry is causing her more concern, and she worries it will strengthen and push back New Orleans’ ability to get power cut back on for its residents.

However, Larry, a category three storm, is forecasted to stay far east of the United States, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Williams said she lives in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, an area that experienced catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

She said she’d been told that her area is still without  electricity.

Entergy, one of the leading power suppliers in Louisiana, announced Monday that it has restored power for more than half of the 902,000 Louisiana customers who lost power due to the storm.