‘It’s like a ghost town’: Louisiana fishing village still reeling after Hurricane Ida

Lafitte man says some residents have left the town for good

LAFITTE, La. – After Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coastline nearly two months ago, people in the storm’s path are still picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Ida made landfall Aug. 29 near Grand Isle, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, producing heavy rain and several feet of storm surge that inundated coastal towns.

In Lafitte, about 25 miles southwest of New Orleans, mud and debris still cover parts of the fishing village that a little more than 800 people call home.

"It's a vibrant town when it's all good, but this right here is the one we have been waiting for, the one everyone told us about for years and years, ‘We going to get one,’ and we got it," said Barry Blanchard, a Lafitte resident who survived the monstrous hurricane.

Floodwaters lifted caskets from their tombs and left them scattered along streets and buried in mud when the waters drained.

Blanchard said his beloved town may never be the same.

"There are people that are moving now, and they are never coming back," Blanchard said. "They are selling everything and are gone … but me, I was born and raised on the bayou, so they are going to bury me somewhere around here."

Blanchard said he is doing what he can to help by handing out food, diapers and toys to those hit hardest by Ida. Other residents said they need officials to help get them back on their feet.

"More of our officials that we vote in need to step up and help out these small communities," said Renae Berthlot, another resident of Lafitte. "We are losing people in our community and I think it's from the stress."

Power and running water have been restored in Lafitte, but recovery will be a long process.

"It's just like a ghost town," said Hungdung Lukenguyn, another Lafitte resident. "Very few people (have) come back. (The) streets are very vacant."

People who were affected by Ida can apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at fema.gov/disaster/4611 or by calling 800-621-3362.

A 24/7 counseling hotline has been set up at 800-985-5990 to help storm victims who may be struggling to cope in the aftermath of the storm.