College students hit by Ida flip to TikTok to share their experiences
Louisiana State University’s dormitories in Baton Rouge had largely emptied by Sunday afternoon when Hurricane Ida swept through the state.
But the freshmen Adrianne Bajon (18) and a small group of friends who could not evacuate due to lack of petrol stayed behind. While they crouched down, the small group of about seven students played Uno, watched “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and documented everything they could on TikTok.
The videos of Bajon, a course in computer science and software engineering, received millions of clicks.
“I thought, ‘Wow. I’ve got a lot of views on this.’ People wanted updates, so I posted light-hearted, funny videos of myself and my roommates. I want everyone to know we’re fine, “said Bajon.
Bajon isn’t the only student to share their experiences on TikTok. Since Ida hit land on Sunday, students across Louisiana have shared their experiences with shelter at their colleges and universities on the platform.
At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, students posted TikToks dancing in the rain. At Tulane University in New Orleans, students shared videos of broken windows. At LSU, students shared videos of themselves performing for rapper Soulja Boys “Rick and Morty” to drive away the storm – a meme that was popularized in the app.
Students speaking to NBC News said it helped them come to terms with the reality of what was happening outside their windows, finding ways to laugh.
Ida diverted rain and caused flooding across the region. Just over 1 million homes and businesses across the state, including all of New Orleans and Orleans Parish, were without power on Monday afternoon, and 911 lines were down in southeast Louisiana.
At least one death has been reported in Louisiana, that of a 60-year-old man whose home was hit by a falling tree.
Governor John Bel Edwards said Monday on NBC’s “TODAY” show that the damage in southeast Louisiana was “really catastrophic” and that officials believe the death toll could rise “significantly”.
Toned to a tropical storm on Monday, Ida was moving through Mississippi, knocking down trees and power lines.
Bajon said she has not spoken to her parents, who live about 20 minutes east in Denham Springs, since the Sunday afternoon after the power outage. She said she believe their phones are dead and they have no cell service.
“I haven’t been able to speak to my parents since it happened,” said Bajon. “This worries me because I want to check it out. I couldn’t check it out and I can’t go there because I have zero miles on my car because all the gas is gone. So now I’ll just wait.”
Some students said that the LSU and Tulane initially lost power but have since turned on generators that allow them to use Wi-Fi and charge their phones.
Jake Moubry, 18, a freshman to Tulane, posted a TikTok with a ration bag he received from school and remembered New York University students going viral last year for sharing meals that were given to them in the Quarantine were served.
“It wasn’t a joke or a joke … It was something I was trying to cover up a situation that wasn’t the best, but it could definitely be a lot worse,” he said.
In his video, which has been viewed more than 53,000 times, Moubry shows off some of the foods Tulane gave him, including a giant sourdough bread, two bags of Doritos, apples, Chef Boardee beef ravioli and Snickers bars.
A comment on Moubry’s video noted how bizarre it was to see his experience on social media.
“Natural disasters are so much more interesting these days,” the comment said.
About a dozen other students in Tulane posted the rations on TikTok. Moubry said that while some of the videos appear snappy, the school took excellent care of the students who were kept safe there.
“I’m really grateful that I was here because of the storm, of all things,” said Moubry.
Not long after Moubry spoke to NBC News, Tulane University announced Monday night that it would evacuate the remaining students to Texas to repair Ida’s damage. Tulane University announced in a statement on Twitter that students would be given room and board until they can fly home. Online classes will resume on September 13th.