WESTWEGO, La. — For many, their lives are back to normal since Hurricane Ida. For others, their homes look like it's the day after the storm.
When people found out a military veteran and her rescued pets were still living in the storm's destruction, they ran to her rescue.
“See where that piece of tin is sticking up? It fell across,” Marjorie Randall, 62, said as she points to the roof of her destroyed trailer.
She stayed in her Westwego trailer during Hurricane Ida. A tree fell on top, moving it off of the foundation. Water poured in. She was trapped inside.
“And I'm like, ‘Man, how am I going to get out of here?’ That's when I started kind of panic a little bit, but I still had to keep my composure because I had all these animals in the house with me,” she remembers.
There are mostly cats, but a dog too, and chickens and doves, 55 total. All are rescues after seeing animals abused when she was a child.
“I made a pledge in my heart, that as long as I had anything to do with it, that I would never see another cat hurt, ever.”
And for the more than five months since the storm, Marjorie has not left their side. With no homeowners insurance or help from the landlord, she’s has been living in her van on the property. It’s something she says her truck-driving career prepared her for.
"I'm really nonplussed simply because I lived in a truck for 22 years. If I can hotwire a big rig, I can handle myself out here. And I've had to do that if I was going to keep warm that night,” Randall laughs.
Her bathroom is a bucket. It’s something she says her service in the U.S. Army prepared her for.
“Where else you gonna go? You out on bivouac, you take your shovel with you, and you handle your business,” she explained.
But no matter how self-sufficient the petit veteran is, she is 4'11'' tall, when the word spread on social media among complete strangers in the animal-loving community, things started to happen. Groups like the CATNIP Foundation in Folsom donated food and supplies, and a full round of veterinary care.
“Ida might be a blow to the state of Louisiana, especially to the south, but what we do in the state of Louisiana is we help each other when we're down,” said Susan Reyes, Volunteer Board President for CATNIP Foundation.
And word continued to spread, even to those with their own needs.
“2020 was horrible. Lost my business in March. Lost my husband in April. Lost my son in June. Lost my dog in December four days before Christmas. I was just devastated,” said Cheryl Comeaux.
But Cheryl has a soft spot for veterans and cat lovers, so is donating a complete household of furniture that’s now in storage from her closed thrift and appliance store.
“I don't know what else to do other than to help people. That's my therapy,” said Comeaux.
“I'm like. ‘OK Lord, what's next?’ He's not going to put me in a situation that he has not made an out for me,” said Randall.
And the furniture will come in handy. Marjorie found a place on the internet for sale in Opelousas for home and office to sell insurance. She is living her motto: Keep moving forward and don't drag your feet.
The CATNIP Foundation is going to help Marjorie move all of her animals to her new home.