Louisiana residents feel defeated and helpless Sunday as many are without gas or cash in advance of Hurricane Ida making landfall.
Robert Owens, 27, hoped he and his wife, his mother-in-law, roommate, and four pets would join the countless Baton Rouge residents fleeing the area before Sunday evening. However, without money for gas and a hotel room, they have to hunker down in their duplex apartment, reported AP News.
Owens was declined by ACE Cash Express on Saturday for an emergency loan after having insufficient credit history. "Our bank account is empty – we can't afford to leave," he said.
"The fact that we are not middle class or above, it just kind of keeps coming back to bite us over and over again, in so many different directions and ways — a simple pay-day advance being one of them," said Owens. "It's like we're having to pay for being poor, even though we're trying to not be poor."
The life-threatening Category 4 hurricane along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast will produce winds as high as 130 mph. Forecasters warned Louisiana residents to take precautions ahead of the intensifying Hurricane Ida.
However, Owens said most people from his low-income neighborhood are without sufficient funds or gas. They want to leave to protect their families, he said, but have no choice but to stay.
"We're [being] left behind," said Owens, adding that it's hard to feel so vulnerable.
The National Hurricane Center said the warm Gulf waters could bolster Ida's destructive power from a Category 2 storm to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane in 18 hours or less.
By Saturday afternoon, Ida was a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (168 kph). The storm was centred about 325 miles (525 kilometres) southeast of coastal Houma, Louisiana, and was travelling northwest at 16 mph (26 kph). Heavy traffic Saturday brought Interstate 10 out of New Orleans to a standstill as people moved to escape the storm's path.
"A lot of us here in my neighborhood have to just hunker down and wait, not knowing how bad it’s going to get. It's a terrifying feeling," he said. "There [are] people who have funds to lean on are able to get out of here," added Owens, "but there's a big chunk of people that are lower-income that don't have a savings account to fall on."
He said his mother-in-law is on disability. His roommates both work for Apple iOS tech support. His wife works scheduling blood donations. All of them rely on the internet to work from home, and if it goes out, they won't be able to bring in any money.
"We might be without work, and rent, power, water, all of those bills will still be needing to get paid," said Owens. "We are a little bit concerned about losing our utilities or even our house — if it's still standing — because we're not going to have the money for any other bills."
He added: "There's a general feeling of fear in not knowing what’s going to be the aftermath of this. That's the most concerning thing. Like, what are we going to do if it gets really bad? Will we still be alive? Is a tree going [to] fall on top of us?"
Hurricane Ida is poised to strike Louisiana's region 16 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Weakened to a Category 3 storm at its second landfall, Katrina caused 1,800 deaths, leveed breaches and produced catastrophic flooding in New Orleans that took years to recover.
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