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A month after Ida, some storm victims are still homeless

Ida homeless
Posted at 12:01 PM, Oct 07, 2021

DULAC, LA -- — Exposed for the world to see, Penny Verdin stands in her front yard washing clothes by hand. This single mother of three lost her home in Hurricane Ida, and the only way she can do laundry now is by emptying water into a sink on the ground that she then fills with detergent.

Watching Verdin wring out the water from her clothes is like stepping back in time.

"We have no privacy pretty much. Everything is gone," the 43-year-old said.

In Dulac, Louisiana, Verdin can't help but think she's been forgotten about after Hurricane Ida.

This family's only source of potable water is a 50-gallon tank which is sitting next to the frame of where their mobile home once stood. They use the water to wash dishes, clean clothes, and drink from.

"It’s crazy but, you know, thank God for our ancestors for teaching us," Verdin added.

The electricity in Dulac was off for more than a month. Crews from all over the country have managed to get most of the lights back on here. But it doesn't matter much for Verdin, she had no home left to power.

"I had just finished paying everything off. We're having to do all the rebuilding ourselves. We can’t afford to have some contractor come with bulldozers," she added.

She and her two children were left homeless by the storm. Her son, Aiden, and daughter, Mary-Louise, alternate their nights between sleeping in the family's suburban and sleeping in a tent. And they will likely be homeless until Verdin can get enough supplies to finish building a 12-foot shed for the family to live in while they figure out how to rebuild.

"I don’t need cash; I need materials, hammers, nails wood," she added.

Across this bayou Parish, home to about 1,100 people, the damage is profound. With internet coverage spotty and cell service still incredibly slow, it's been difficult for residents to make FEMA claims. This is why the agency is now been going door-to-door to try to sign people up for aid.

As for Verdin, if she gets any kind of federal aid, FEMA will mandate her home be built 13-feet off the ground. Since she can't afford those costs, the 43-year-old mom will pay out of pocket to rebuild her home, meaning it will only have to be built about 7-feet off the ground.

It's just another sad reality for many of the storm victims left with nothing after Hurricane Ida.

"There’s no salvaging nothing, it’s bad, it’s really bad. I have to start over with three kids," Verdin said.