In a 1998 episode similar to this week’s tragedy, two nursing home residents died after being evacuated on buses without air-conditioning to a Baton Rouge warehouse owned by Mr. Dean during the approach of Hurricane Georges. He appealed a $1,500 state fine related to the death during that evacuation of an 86-year-old woman who had a heart attack; he succeeded in lowering the fine to $1,000 when a judge determined his company was not responsible for her death.
New York Flooding
Sept. 3, 2021, 2:54 p.m. ET
Outside the warehouse in Independence on Friday, Louisiana State Police troopers rolled in and out in SUVs and put up yellow tape to keep people out. Cardboard boxes remained spread across the wet ground next to one exit, as if to create a dry path through the mud for those leaving the facility. Labels on the broken-down boxes indicated that they were for hospital beds, easy-to-make oats, and frozen bread. They sat beside a half-empty quart of milk, blue surgical gloves and crumpled bottles of water.
Many neighbors questioned why the nursing home residents had been brought to what turned out to be one of the hardest-hit regions in the state.
In neighborhoods around the warehouse, the winds from Ida had blown the siding off mobile homes, pushed large trees through roofs and knocked branches onto power lines, sending splayed electrical wires across streets. A sign welcoming visitors to Independence was surrounded by trees snapped near the base of their trunks.
Longtime residents said the warehouse had once been used as a stocking factory and later was used to manufacture aerosol cans before largely going dark, though they said it was still sometimes used to store emergency supplies.
People who sat in driveways and on porches in the sweltering heat nearby said they had no idea that hundreds of nursing home residents had been bused to the warehouse until Wednesday, when dozens of buses lined up to take them to hospitals after state officials began to fear that the conditions inside were hazardous.
A block away from the warehouse, Lillian Danna, 92, who lives alone, stuck out the storm in the same home she has lived in since the 1950s. As she used a hose to clear debris from her driveway on Friday, she described discovering that the storm had torn through her neighborhood. She awoke on Monday after the storm when it was still dark and with no electricity. She grabbed the flashlight she keeps by her bed and tried to see her back yard, where she has a shed, but it was too difficult to see clearly.