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Oakley restaurateur, a New Orleans native, sees echoes of Katrina in Hurricane Ida's wake

Jimmie Lou's
Posted at 2:49 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 20:40:57-04

CINCINNATI — Hurricane Ida left catastrophic damage in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. At least one person is dead, and millions are still without power.

Jeffery Harris, the owner of Jimmie Lou's inside the Oakley Kitchen Food Hall, is familiar with that devastation.

"Every time something happens there, hurricane-wise, it's a piece of me in that," Harris said. "Besides my family, I'm there, too."

Harris moved to Cincinnati after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown of New Orleans back in 2005.

"It's been a little intense," Harris said. "It's bringing back what we went through the first time."

Harris still has family living in New Orleans. However, he said, thankfully they are all safe after weathering Hurricane Ida.

"They are all out of power right now," Harris said.

And that is why several local groups are heading to New Orleans — to help out people such as Harris' family.

"We're all in this together," said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. "If you can't go help your fellow brothers and sisters that call for help, and when you need help, you can't expect people to come help you."

Jones said his county has one of the best emergency response teams in the country.

"They're equipped, trained, but a lot of this is organized chaos," he said. "It changes and things switch, and you got to be flexible to be able to go, and it's always very dangerous."

Jones' team is not the only local group preparing to help the people in Louisiana either. Matthew 25: Ministries plans to send their teams to the region on Thursday.

"This one is going to be a big time of need for lots of people," said Tim Mettey, CEO of Matthew 25: Ministries. "The devastation is going to be severe."

Mettey said, based on experience, he expects the pictures coming out of the areas affected by Hurricane Ida show only a fraction of the devastation the storm left behind.

"I know we're just starting to get images out of there, but it really doesn't show you the truth," he said. "You may see the pictures and think, 'OK, that's bad,' but that's only one house out of like 100 in that block."

That includes the thousands, including Jeffery Harris' family, left to pick through the pieces of what Ida left in its wake.

"It's just sad, like there's a little bit of sadness; everyone's not in their joyful spirits," Harris said.