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Hurricane Ida stories: “It was worse than the war.”

During Hurricane Ida, 78-year-old Chester C. pushed against his patio door in Houma, Louisiana, praying for it to stay in place against the 150 mph winds on the other side. “This was worse than the war,” he says. “When [Hurricane Ida] was over, I was just glad to be alive.” That’s a lot coming from an Air Force veteran who served several tours in Vietnam.

Chester stands by the patio door he eventually nailed a 2x4 across during Hurricane Ida.

Ida’s winds tore shingles from his roof, and water poured into the house. Sheetrock came down. Mold began to grow. Chester’s street was cut off from the main roads by a series of downed power lines and trees, so neighbors were the only connections available for a few days. Those with multiple generators washed clothes and shared food. When another neighbor got word her son had died of COVID thousands of miles away, the rest of them sat with her and prayed.

With temperatures climbing into the triple digits after Ida, Chester took to spending his days in a plastic chair in the shade of his garage and talking with neighbors. Many of them were also sleeping in their garages, but he had a generator to power the AC in the one undamaged room of his house: his bedroom.

Our team clearing out Chester’s home.

We were able to quickly activate teams to muck and gut Chester’s home and remediate for mold. But he’s still waiting to hear how much money he’ll receive to rebuild his home. In the meantime, he’s using his bedroom as his kitchen, too, and his garage as his living room. He’s resumed visiting the sick at the local hospital and preaching at church. He refuses to leave. His community needs him too much.

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