HOUSTON — Some who evacuated Louisiana ahead of the time Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday are now having a hard time finding resources in Houston.
Angelo Aldave and his family are essentially living out of their car as they drive door-to-door looking for help.
Aldave left his New Orleans home Friday and is navigating unfamiliar roads in a city that isn’t his. The 28-year old husband and father spent the last five days, “jumping from hotel to hotel trying to figure out what our next step would be.”
His car is packed and his duffel bags are filled with clothing and food for his puppy. Diapers for his baby fill his trunk. His 20-year old wife, their 1-year-old son and the family’s dog are crammed in the car’s backseat.
“It’s hard,” Aldave said. “It’s emotionally hard.”
The Aldave family evacuated New Orleans with a plan to be away from their apartment home for just a few days. Louisiana’s governor and the mayor of New Orleans are now warning residents that it could be weeks before it’s safe for them to return home.
“Terrible,” Aldave’s wife, Victoria Cotton, said of what it was like to evacuate with a baby in tow. “Nobody really prepares you for this. Especially as new parents. You don’t know how many diapers you need to pack. You don’t know how many clothes you need to bring.”
With money drying up and hotels becoming harder to come by, Aldave drove his family to an American Red Cross shelter in Houston. The organization, he said, gave him a list of Red Cross shelters between Houston and New Orleans.
“And we also got a list, front and back, of agencies that we can call for help,” he said.
His first stop was at Lakewood Church, which has opened its doors to Ida evacuees. Aldave and his cousin walked in looking for food and diapers.
They walked out with another list of, “other shelters for other types of assistance.”
“We don’t know the condition of our apartment. We have no clue, with our family, what’s going to happen,” Cotton said as she held back tears. “We don’t know with work what’s going to happen. Nothing. We have no word on income. Or a safe place to stay. So it’s a lot.”
Aldave’s aunt and cousin are following along in their own SUV, helping the young father strategize by researching addresses and making calls to organizations on the list.
“On to the next one. We’ll see what happens,” Aldave said before he got back in his car.
In a city that isn’t his, the young father is driving blind in search of food and supplies as he fights to survive, one day at a time.
“Just trying to stay strong for the whole family,” he said.