Louisiana security guard's reason for not evacuating sheds light on real problems

Louisiana security guard's reason for not evacuating sheds light on real problems
Louisiana residents evacuating, while satellite image of Hurricane Ida shows it emerging over southeastern Gulf of Mexico (Twitter/@JacobLanierWx and NOAA

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Hurricane Ida, touted as one of the most powerful to hit the state in more than a century, has led to panic and evacuations. “We can sum it up by saying this will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” said Governor John Bel Edwards at a news conference, warning residents that their window to evacuate the area was closing. But for everyone, evacuation does not seem to be an option.

A tweet has gone viral for painting a horrifying picture. Dr Robert Collins, professor of urban studies and public policy at Dillard University, shared a conversation on Twitter. He wrote, “I just ran into one of the security guards in my building. I asked if she was evacuating. She said: ‘On my salary, either I can evacuate. Or I can pay my rent on the first. I can’t do both.’ I wish more people understood that not everyone has the privilege to evacuate.”


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Collins’ tweet was retweeted by more than 13,000 people at the time of writing this. Many shared the tweet, criticizing the government. “Agree. Not everyone has the transportation or the money to evacuate. If you have no car, or if you can't pay for gas and lodging if you do leave, well, it's not that you CHOSE to stay. You had no choice,” wrote one person. Another tweet read, “And this is a real problem Government spending trillions outside of America but we’re not taking care of our home. To be faced with a decision to have to bare a mf hurricane to pay your rent or be homeless. Great job America.”

One Twitter user asked, “Some can't afford to take a car/taxi across town. How can they leave, find a safe place to stay until it is safe to return? Pres Biden declared an emergency.  Is there money to move civilians to safety, house them & return them when safe? If not...why?”




Ida, which passed through the Cayman Islands as a tropical storm and reached Cuba on Friday, August 27, as a Category 1 hurricane became a Category 3 storm on early Sunday, August 29, and then upgraded to Category 4 just an hour later, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph as per the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to hit Louisiana soon. 

“It’s very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,” Edwards said on Saturday, August 28. “But I also want you to know that we’re not the same state that we were 16 years ago.”

President Joe Biden approved federal emergency assistance for Louisiana and other southern states. At a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he repeatedly told residents: “Pay attention and be prepared.” The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, said the focus of emergency responders had already switched to the aftermath of the storm, as the window of opportunity for evacuations was narrowing rapidly.

“[You] need to make sure that you are in a safe place, everyone, whether you’re going to leave voluntarily or stay on-site hunkered down, wherever that is,” Cantrell told reporters. “Hopefully that’s your home in our city, but in a safe space. If you’re staying you need to be prepared for damaging wind, power outages, heavy rain, tornadoes … this storm in no way will be weakening, there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen. Time is not on our side. It’s rapidly growing, it’s intensifying, and if you’re voluntarily evacuating our city now is the time to leave.”

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