On a recent Tuesday night, Pastor James Fletcher was standing on the side of a busy state highway in LaPlace, Louisiana, waving his arms in an attempt to get motorists' attention. His hope is they might need supplies being handed out by his church more than a month after Hurricane Ida ravaged the Gulf Coast.
"You've got relief, recovery and at the end of the day, you have rebuild. We’re kind of on the cusp of relief and recovery," Pastor Fletcher said.
Aerial pictures from above tell part of the story here, countless homes are covered in blue tarps after suffering roof damage from Hurricane Ida. The visible scars left behind by the storm. Nearly 80% of homes in this St. John The Baptist Parish sustained damage from the storm.
As families slowly return to assess what’s left many are realizing what they don’t have. From cleaning supplies to trash cans. At a recent supply giveaway, volunteer Ashley Griffith was seeing family after family showing up desperate for diapers.
"When you evacuate, it’s the things you don’t think about," she said.
The median income in LaPlace is around $31,000, even before the storm families here were struggling to make ends meet.
"We’re still at a point of recovery. We’re not there yet, but we’re working toward it," she added.
Just down the street from the supply drive, LaPlace resident Kimbra Williams-Weber was working to remove drywall from inside her home. Flooding from Ida pushing nearly six feet of water inside Williams-Weber's house.
Having been through hurricanes before, the 43-year-old resident said this is her last.
"I’m not doing this again. This is the last time for me, it’s too stressful," she said.
Williams-Weber, her husband, and daughter have gutted the house down to the studs. More than a month after Ida they’re ready to rebuild but are stuck waiting for insurance money.
"I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights and that’s being honest because you have to secure contractors. If you don’t secure a contractor now, they’re going to move onto another job," she said.
All the while, their neighborhood streets are serving as a constant painful reminder of the storm. Debris and trash in many places are piled nearly 12 feet high, touching the roofs of some homes. Trash collection across Southeast Louisiana was already an issue before the storm.
Officials in Parishes and the city of New Orleans areas are bringing in outside contractors to help, but it all takes time.
Meanwhile, homeowners like Kimbra William-Weber wait.
"What makes me upset is I’ve checked all my boxes, so I’m sitting here in limbo waiting to see what happens next," she said.