Few spared from widespread damage in Ascension Parish
GONZALES - As Hurricane Ida, then a category three storm, barreled down on Ascension Parish Sunday, Richard Ruemker was fairly confident one of the oak trees in his yard would come crashing down.
"I kept waiting for a tree to come through the house, honestly," Ruemker said. "I was watching the bands come through, and one minute the trees would just be leaning a little bit, and then a big [gust] would come through and just lay them over."
Having one of those trees come crashing through the roof was Ruemker's wife, Rhonda's, biggest concern.
"I did a lot of praying that the roots would stay," Rhonda said.
Monday afternoon, Richard and Rhonda recounted the anxiety-ridden hours are they rode out the storm.
"35, 45 miles an hour winds at one point, and then all of a sudden you'd get a gust that'd come through that sounded like a freight train," Richard said.
When the couple finally emerged from inside Monday morning, they found out just how close they came to having their worst nightmare turn into a reality.
"Oh my gosh, it was just like unbelievable," Rhonda said. "Is that not amazing? It's amazing that it did not go through the roof."
One of their oaks was suspended inches from their roof, stopping just short of falling through, held up by other limbs.
The Ruemkers know just how lucky they are considering the extensive damage elsewhere in Ascension. At nearly every turn, trees were uprooted and tossed through yards, from St. Amant to Sorrento.
Knowing how those nearby fared far worse, Rhonda remains awestruck that her oaks are still in place.
After a scary night listening to winds roar and waiting anxiously in the dark, the couple says next time they plan to evacuate, knowing they might not be this lucky again. After a day of clearing debris, they credit their faith with keeping them safe.
"You hear the news, and they tell you it's severe, and it's coming, and you want to prepare for that, but you really don't know it until it's here on top of you," Rhonda said.
"Definitely a ride you don't want to take," Richard said.