Hurricane Ida affects BYU alumni

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People paddle a boat up a street flooded from Hurricane Ida, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Ida are scrambling for food, gas, water and relief from the oppressive heat. (AP Photo/John Locher)

BYU alumni and faculty with ties to Louisiana shared their experiences with Hurricane Ida as the recovery and clean up process begins.

Hurricane Ida, one of the strongest storms to hit the Gulf Coast, caused more than 1 million houses in Louisiana and Mississippi to go without power according to the Associated Press. Reports from around the nation show families have been worried about the safety of relatives and property damage.  

“After preparing for the storm by boarding up windows, removing things from the lawn, making sure my generator was ready, I took my pillow and slept in the bathroom when the storm hit,” said Rulon McKay, a BYU alumnus living in Mandeville, Louisiana. “The only thing you can do is wait it out and pray that everything is going to be OK.” 

McKay, 59, studied human resource development at BYU and graduated in 1986. His son Jacob also recently graduated from BYU. “Storms like this are something we’ve had to deal with many times in the past. We are used to putting on those yellow helping hand shirts and cleaning up with our neighbors,” Jacob McKay said.

BYU administrator Jenith Larsen said her family was also caught in the storm. “My family is doing well, meaning they haven’t been injured, but everyone has suffered devastating property damage,” Larsen said.

Larsen grew up in Louisiana and said in times like these, people are considered lucky if they can avoid any injuries.

Despite the dispiriting circumstances and the many hardships to come, Rulon McKay and Larsen share a similar outlook on their future. “We are resilient. This isn’t our first time going through this, and even if all we have is each other, that’s enough,” Rulon McKay said.

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