Some people cannot afford to evacuate to Idanaka


In some low-income Louisiana communities, many said they had to stay while they wanted to flee to protect their families.

Robert Owens was defeated and felt helpless on Sunday as he waited to land in the Louisiana capital as one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.

The 27-year-old had anxious days as Hurricane Ida approached, seeing a long line of cars evacuating from Baton Rouge heading to a safer location outside the state. He wanted him and his wife, his mother-in-law, his roommates and four pets to be among them. But leaving would have required money for gasoline and hotel rooms, which they did not have.

Desperately, Owens went to ACE Cash Express on Saturday to submit his payday loan documents. He was rejected after being told he did not have enough credit history.

On Sunday, it was clear that they would survive the storm at home in his family’s double apartment.

“Our bank account is empty, we cannot afford to leave,” he said.

Owens said the vast majority of people in his low-income neighborhoods are in the same situation. They want to leave to protect their families, but they have no choice but to stay.

“A lot of us in my neighborhood just have to look around and wait, not knowing how bad it will be. It’s a scary feeling,” he said.

“People with reliable money can get out of here, but there are a lot of low-income people who don’t have a savings account,” he continued. behind. “

He said on Sunday that the area was strangely calm, the wind was getting faster and it was starting to rain.

Owens said he quickly put the towel under the leaky duplex window and spent a day charging the electronics. He tried to go to Dollar General and Dollar Tree to buy food, but they were closed. Her family sticks lights around the walls of the house. They planned to hide in the laundry room or kitchen when the storm hit – a place with no windows.

“There is a general fear of not knowing what the consequences of this will be,” he said. “This is the biggest concern. For example, what are we going to do if it really gets worse? Are we still alive? Will the tree fall on us? ? “

Owens said his stepmother had a disability. His two roommates work for Apple iOS technical support. His wife is considering donating blood. They all depend on the Internet to work from home, and without the Internet they cannot make any money.

“We may not have a job, and the rent, electricity, water and all those bills still have to be paid,” he said. – Because I have no money for the other bills. “

He said it was hard to feel so vulnerable because his family was being left behind.

“The fact that we’re not above the middle class is like coming back and biting us over and over again in so many different directions and ways. Simple advance payment on salary. Is one of them, ”he said. “It is as if we are trying not to be poor, but we have to pay for what is poor.”

Leah Willingham is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.

Some people cannot afford to evacuate to Idanaka

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