Loyola students, faculty evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ida


Courtesy of Elizabeth Rainey

Elizabeth Rainey, director of the student success center, rides in the car with her husband, children, and dog to Birmingham. Rainey is one of many members of the Loyola community to leave town for Hurricane Ida.

Loyola students, faculty and staff are making a run for it after the city issued a voluntary evacuation Friday before Hurricane Ida will touch down in New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Sunday.

Students who were prepared to finish their first week of a full capacity in-person semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic are now switching their classes for sandbags and long car rides as Loyola waits for Ida.

Those who have experienced hurricanes in the past are especially sensitive to the shift in plans. Visual communications freshman Virginia Armstrong is from Puerto Rico and said she was without power on the island for three months after Hurricane Maria.

Seeing people gather water bottles and other essential storm supplies struck a nerve in her before she drove off Friday night with her roommate and suitemate to stay at a relative’s home in Jackson, Mississippi.

“The pain never really goes away,” Armstrong said. “It’s there. You live with it.”

Armstrong said, in Puerto Rico, evacuating isn’t an option, and she was excited to be able to get out of New Orleans for Ida.

“If you have the chance to evacuate and you can do it, why not?” she said.

Finance senior Daniel Ferro, like Armstrong, has weathered many storms growing up in Miami but said experiencing a hurricane in New Orleans is different. Ferro thinks New Orleans has limited resources and weak infrastructure and got out to his cousin’s house in Dallas when he heard Ida was a category four hurricane.

Before evacuating yesterday, Ferro’s number one concern was making sure his roommates who were staying in town were okay. He also secured the apartment where he just signed a lease. Ferro said he and his roommates just bought all of the things in their apartment, and not knowing what is coming next is unsettling.

“It’s weeks to months of uncertainty depending on how the storm hits,” Ferro said.

Elizabeth Rainey, executive director of the student success center, decided to evacuate Friday night and left New Orleans Saturday morning with her husband, two children, and dog.

Her family was on its way to Birmingham Saturday afternoon to stay with an uncle. She said traveling with pets is a difficult thing to consider and mentioned leaving her family’s bearded dragon behind with a neighbor so they wouldn’t have to travel with a tank and sunlamp.

In route to Alabama, Rainey said her main concern was with her unvaccinated children being put at risk to COVID-19 due to travel. She said gas was also a problem. She had to stop at three stations before being able to fill up.

In the three gas stations, Rainey said she saw more people without masks than she had in a month.

“You don’t always know if you make the right decision,” Rainey said, adding “I think we’re just going to make the best of it.”