‘We’re going to get through this’ —Hundreds look for fuel, food, other supplies in wake of Hurricane Ida

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dozens of cars lined up along Brookway Boulevard Tuesday afternoon, waiting in ever-lengthening queues for a chance to buy fuel.

The scene was replicated on Hwy. 51 at gas stations and at Hwy. 84 Chevron just off Interstate 55. Several law enforcement officers from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Lincoln County Constable Kelly Porter directed traffic at 84 Chevron and did what they could to keep the flow going as hundreds of vehicles gassed up in a matter of a couple of hours.

“We’ve been out here a little over two hours,” Sheriff Steve Rushing said around 3 p.m. “We remember what Katrina was like, so we’re trying to keep this going as smoothly as we can, and hopefully avoid any confrontations.”

A Hammond man shrugged his shoulders as he waiting in his pickup to move closer to the station from his spot a quarter-mile south on Auburn Drive SW.

“What are you going to do?” he said. “I drove up to McComb to get a generator and I couldn’t find gas in McComb. I came up here and now I have to find gas because I don’t have enough to make it home.”

“What we keep hearing is that Hammond is completely out of gas, so everybody is heading up here,” Rushing said. “It’s mostly for generators, and a lot of these people are being told it’ll be 30 days before they get their power back.”

A tall man stood between his car and a pump as he waited for a family member to pay for their gas inside the store.

“We’re from New Orleans,” he said. “We came up this way because of the storm and we’re just trying to make it. Trying to get gas and supplies. We don’t know when we’ll be able to go back home.”

A woman surrounded by four small children finished filling her car’s tank and started filling a fuel can. She was spending all she had left on gas to get back to Independence, Louisiana.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do when we get home,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t know what we’re going to do for food.”

Another woman pumping her gas put her hand over her mouth and wept when she was asked by another customer if she was OK. She shook her head. “It’ll all work out,” he said.

Deedra from Kentwood had driven to Brookhaven to find an open gas station and grocery store.

“Everything is closed in Kentwood,” she said. “I mean, everything. A couple of gas stations were running off generators as long as they could. But there’s no power. Nobody has it.”

She and her family had been looking for a grill of some kind that they could afford and use to cook the food in their refrigerators and freezers before it all went bad.

“We didn’t find a grill, but we did find one of those folding wire racks like you’d put in your oven,” Deedra said. “And we’re going to cook outside on that.”

A man in the gas queue called out something to a deputy directing traffic.

“Sir?” the deputy answered.

“How much gas can I get?” the man asked.

“I don’t know,” the deputy said.

“Alright. Then let’s go for it!” he said, as he pulled toward a pump.

Everyone pumping gas said they had waited no more than 30 minutes in line — something they were pleasantly surprised by, considering many of them were living out memories of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

“They’re moving it along really well, real smooth,” one woman said.

“We got through Katrina,” Deedra said. “We’re going to get through this.”