Adding to the train wreck of 2020, on the early morning of August 27, Hurricane Laura hit land and made its way up Louisiana and through Vernon Parish, destroying homes and severely damaging the southern part of the state.
“I saw the house that fell on her neighbor’s house and a lot of their huge oak trees were just down, down on their sides,” said Janine Proto, mother of a one and a three-year-old that lives in Vernon Parish located in southern Louisiana.
While some people only dealt with fallen branches and a bit of debris, others faced crushed homes and lost family members.
“Her street looked like the type of damage you would see in the news report,” Proto said.
However, others were not very affected by the storm and had expected much worse.
“We didn’t get much damage to the house,” Pickering High School freshman Kylie Zemaitis said, “but the humidity did peal up some of our floors.”
Overall, everyone’s experiences were different, but there were some difficulties that everyone shared, including losing electricity, and the need for generators.
“There was a gas shortage for a while there,” recent graduate of Pickering High School, Jude Rivera said. “So, when you went into town for specific things there were abandoned vehicles up and down the roads.”
The lack of electricity created many obstacles for families.
“I left at one point with my kids, and we went to family’s house because we didn’t know when we were going to get power,” Nicole Rupe said, mother of three elementary aged children. “A lot of trees just came up from the roots, the whole tree didn’t snap, just came out of the ground, there were huge holes. It’s just really sad.”
People lost family members, including a young girl whose tree fell through her house, and killed her.
“There was a family of five that died,” Rivera said. “I guess their generator malfunctioned and they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
The hurricane also made it difficult to do school at home, online.
“Because of the hurricane, a lot of the schools in the parish received damage,” Rupe said. “School was supposed to start the seventh or the ninth of September, I can’t remember the exact day, and a lot of people still didn’t have any power or internet, so they pushed school back to start the fourteenth.”
After recently moving to El Paso, Jasmin Morrow who is the mother of two students in EPISD, is relieved to not have to worry about these disasters anymore.
“I’m really, really happy that I don’t have to worry anymore about having food and everything at home and keeping my family, my kids, and my pets safe,” Morrow said.
Morrow has experienced living through a hurricane in her past. She remembers once being separated from her children during that experience.
“I had to call them and say jump in the bathtub, take some water and pillows and go in there,” Morrow said. “I was shopping with a friend at Lowes and we all kind of got pushed into a room for safety and we had to stay there, I think for 30 or 45 minutes, and it was the longest time ever for me because I was really worried about the kids.”
Now that the family moved to El Paso, Morrow sleeps soundly at night, but worries for families that are dealing with hurricanes in addition to the ongoing pandemic.
“We got really lucky, we left Fort Polk, Louisiana at the perfect time,” Morrow said.