Residents go 11 days without power at low-income apartment building in Louisiana

The residents, many of them elderly, say they were abandoned after Hurricane Ida knocked out electricity.


Residents at an apartment building in New Orleans say they were abandoned after Hurricane Ida knocked out electricity, and the property manager offered little to no assistance to the 40 or so low-income residents. Many are elderly and have acute health conditions that were exacerbated by the oppressive heat after the storm.

Electricity was restored Thursday, but people who suffered through the heat are demanding answers.

"We went through a lot of pain and suffering, couldn't sleep, never got sleep or nothing, man," said Tyrone Webber, a resident at Boyd Manor.

Residents depended on local community volunteers who brought them food, water and ice. Some of the volunteers had been inside the building's apartments and shared videos that showed water on the floor and leaks around window sills.

The volunteers made patchwork repairs, but residents say they have not heard from the property manager about long-term solutions.

"The landlord didn't come here, not one day. We was without lights and everything for 10 days, and she's going to come here today talking about she want rent," resident Yolanda Lewis said.

National Baptist Housing and Economic Development own the property. Its chairman, who is also a local pastor, said he had evacuated from New Orleans for the hurricane and had not been to the residence since the storm.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development financed the property and pays 70% of the rent for tenants, who must qualify as low-income. This means residents did not have the means to evacuate on their own.

However, a representative for the company that manages the building told sister station WDSU that the residents were given information to arrange their evacuation through the city's 311 service. Only one resident chose that option.

The on-site manager has been to the building every day since Hurricane Ida and brought residents food and water, the representative said. Residents dispute that claim, saying volunteers and a council member have been their only sources of aid. One resident said the manager "snuck in through the backdoor."

A community member said conditions were substandard before the hurricane. He, too, said property management has been absent in the storm's aftermath.

Personnel is expected to be sent to complete an assessment of building damage. That process was hindered by the lack of electricity. There was no timeline given for when repairs would be made, but contractors are reportedly expected to be hired if the damages are extensive.

Residents should not be expected to pay their portion of the rent in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, a representative for the company said, adding that she was not aware that the onsite property manager had pressed tenants for payments. She also said she was not aware of residents' claims that problems such as mold, mildew and leaks were present before the storm.