North Texas has become a temporary home for some who decided to leave Louisiana to stay out of the path of Hurricane Ida.
Ben Blumenfeld, 18, is from Dallas but moved to New Orleans last week for his freshman year at Tulane University.
He and his family decided he should fly back home once meteorologists predicted Hurricane Ida would become a Category 4 storm.
“I'm very glad I evacuated, I'm not the best with storms and stuff like that, all that thunder and lightning probably wouldn't have been to my liking,” Blumenfeld said. “I saw a bunch of videos from people who were there and they said they were scared.”
The freshman said he heard from peers who stayed behind that there was some damage around campus.
“Right outside my dorm the streets are kind of flooded, there was like videos of rushing water last night,” Blumenfeld said.
Tulane University canceled all classes and closed campus through Tuesday as officials assess the damage. Those who remained on campus were asked to remain in place.
"I'm hoping I can get back and help those in need for sure, do some community service,” Blumenfeld said.
The entire city of New Orleans lost power late Sunday after Ida severely damaged the power grid.
“I think we made the right decision to leave, the area has been devastated and I prayed about it prior to leaving and I have complete peace for leaving early,” said Kenlie Fite, who lives in New Orleans but evacuated to North Texas.
Fite, who works at Tulane University, said in the nine years she’s lived in New Orleans, this was the first time her family has evacuated. She, her husband, and her dog, Oliver, left on Friday.
“Last year we experienced Hurricane Zeta which was a Category 1 storm and it left us without power for a week, so we decided if there was a Category 1 or more, we would make our way to Mansfield,” said Fite, who is staying with a close family friend.
She said they watched the weather through the Ring camera on their door until around 3 p.m. Sunday when the power went out.
Since then, she said she has learned from neighbors that the storm damaged their home.
“We don’t know how significant the damage is yet. My mother lives in Galliano which made national news yesterday because of the extensive damage, so we are waiting, we are praying, we have a lot of unanswered questions right now,” Fite said.
She said her mother evacuated to another family member’s home out of state.
Fite said staying with their friends in Mansfield has been helpful emotionally.
“I was upset, I was crying this morning. Last night was really difficult, even knowing God is in control, Fite said. “She came in today and said, ‘Whatever you need. You know if you need to stay here long term, you can stay here...' It’s really nice to know that we can stay here and we don’t have to figure that out like a lot of other people. There are tons of people who just don’t have the resources that we have. We feel really thankful."
Eight members of the Davis family from Kenner, Louisiana drove 10 hours to reach the Comfort Suites Hotel in Las Colinas early Sunday.
The hotel is one in a group of Irving hotels offering discounts for evacuees.
“We were just looking for a place to be comfortable and get out of harm’s way. So, that's what we did, we got out of harm's way,” Christy Davis said.
Davis, her sister Kenya, their kids and grandkids have been paying attention to news reports from back home.
"It’s heartbreaking and devastating," Kenya Davis said.
At 8 years old, Terance White is too young to remember Hurricane Katrina, which struck 16 years ago. But he has seen pictures that give him a good idea of what is happening in Louisiana now.
“It's better here than what's happening with the flooding over there,” he said.
Video on TV showed damage in downtown New Orleans and severe flooding in suburban areas where his family lives.
Christy Davis said Facebook posts from people in her neighborhood made it clear to her that the lower level of her two-story apartment was flooded.
She said she has second thoughts about recovery only to brace for yet another hurricane in the future.
“I just don't want to keep going through that, keep grandkids, constantly having to replace stuff, and stuff like that. So, yeah. I might be thinking about relocating if there's too much damage there,” she said.
The thought of leaving is harder for others in her family, including her 34-year-old son David Davis.
“Louisiana is my home. We’ve been living there all of our life,” he said. “I work in New Orleans. I stay in Kenner. So, I would like to go back to something.”
Kenya Davis said she was about to start a job at the new Four Seasons Hotel in New Orleans.
“We just opened a nice, premier, luxury hotel,” she said. “New Orleans is a resilient city. They’re fighters.”
Texas is their temporary home but there are things about Louisiana they said they would miss if they relocated permanently, including the food.
“We can make it good, though. We know how to make it good,” Christy Davis said.
It will be days before it is safe to return to survey what they lost in this hurricane for decisions about the future.
Vickie Templet and Phil Templet felt a familiar anxiety they felt before leaving New Orleans. With a storm a powerful as Ida, they couldn’t help but think of what they endured in sixteen years ago during Hurricane Katrina.
"That’s the reason we decided to leave when we left. It just felt like it was going to be a carbon copy of what happened with Katrina," said Phil Templet.
"We lost everything in Katrina and we went back just three and a half years ago back to where we lived," said Vickie.
For now, they’re sheltering at a hotel in Irving with Vickie’s parents who they picked up from Mississippi. They’re all New Orleans natives and say no matter the outcome, the plan will always be to return home.