‘It hurts, it really hurts’: Hurricane Ida evacuees look to permanently relocate to Austin, but no means to do so

Hays

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Ysela Delaney, her partner and three young kids don’t know where they’ll go come Thursday.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Delaney said.

They left Houma, Louisiana for Kyle, Texas, days before Hurricane Ida made landfall.

Delaney said a friend paid for their hotel room for two nights. Then they went to Salado, Texas, where Bunkhouse hotels offered free rooms for evacuees.

Bunkhouse said it would only be able to help evacuees with shelter until Wednesday.

On Monday, Delaney found out her home was destroyed. According to her, windows were smashed in and the roof collapsed.

“Our kids are saying, ‘I want to go home, I want to go home,’ They don’t know,” Delaney said. “We can’t live down there, our hometown is destroyed.”

Relocating isn’t manageable for everyone, especially when they’re a support system for relatives.

“I’ve had people offer me a job down here, but at some point I still have to return and get my grandmother get back on her feet,” Janson Lowery, Delaney’s partner, said. “It’s really rough.”

Financially, Delaney said she and her family have lost everything. They can’t afford to go back to Louisiana or find a new home in the Austin area.

“My best friend’s child almost passed out, because it’s so hot over there,” Delaney said. “There’s no water, there’s no gas. We don’t want to go down there right now.”

Delaney and her family are among hundreds of other evacuees now desperately trying to figure out what to do next.

“We’re not used to asking for anything, we’re not used to that,” she said. “We try to tough it out. But as a mom, as a parent, it hurts.”

This isn’t the first time those who have fled to Texas have tried to resettle.

Bea Teague and her family relocated to Wimberley in 2020 after Hurricane Laura. In fact, her husband collected essential supplies from community members and loaded it up in his own truck to take down to southeast Louisiana for aid on Tuesday.

“You hear about the larger cities, but you don’t hear about the smaller communities that need that help,” Teague said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Texas received the majority of Louisiana and Mississippi evacuees after Hurricane Katrina, one of the most damaging hurricanes to date.

According to federal data, 37% of Katrina evacuees from Louisiana who didn’t go back to their pre-Katrina parishes went to Texas.

“The rebuilding process takes a very, very long time,” Teague said.

Teague said it took her family five months to resettle.

“It’s just absolutely devastating,” she said.

Delaney said she has been receiving community help. Neighbors have offered her clothes and food for her kids, among other things. But she’s hoping to find a new home where her family can sleep at night.

“It’s so hard to take, because we’ve never had to,” Delaney said. “It’s wherever we can try to be stable, wherever we can try to get a place, it doesn’t matter.”

Kyle resident Kristen Brozak is holding a fundraiser for Delaney’s family.

Through her online boutique, “Beautiful Impact Boutique,” she said she’ll be doing live sales and donating 25% of proceeds to Delaney’s family.

“When I saw Ysela’s post, I knew I had to try and help, even if just a little,” Brozak said.

Brozak is also accepting direct donations on Delaney’s behalf via PayPal to the email address beautifulimpactboutique@gmail.com.

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