“Are you evacuating?” As a resident of South Louisiana, I heard this question multiple times on the days leading up to Hurricane Ida’s predicted landfall on August 29, 2021.
by Celeste Roberts
“No, it’s supposed to be just a Category 1 or 2,” I replied to each inquiry. “We’ll lose power for a bit, but I don’t think it will be too bad.”
By Friday, August 27, though, meteorologists were sharing grim news: Ida would arrive in Louisiana as a Category 4, possibly even a Category 5. To those unfamiliar with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, hurricanes are measured on an intensity scale of Category 1 to Category 5. Both a Category 4 and Category 5 storm will produce “catastrophic damage,” with winds ranging from 111 to 150 miles per hour.
Just like the residents of Termina fearfully watch the moon draw ever closer to the land in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, residents of South Louisiana monitored weather channels and Websites, paying close attention to the governor’s warnings of a “state of emergency.”
Despite the severity of the approaching monster, my family and I decided to stay home and ride out the storm, my first time doing so in over two decades. Normally we would evacuate to North Louisiana to stay with my aunt and uncle, who have always offered their home as a comfortable shelter. However, seeing the news share footage of bumper-to-bumper traffic pile-ups as Louisiana citizens headed for distant locations discouraged me from wanting to drive 12 or more hours for a 5-hour trip, especially knowing gas stations along the way could be out of fuel. Also, how long would we be gone? A few days? A few weeks? What if we needed to assess damage and file an insurance claim? What if we needed to begin mitigating damage to prevent additional issues? I recalled the previous evacuations with multiple family members and the worry everyone shared in wondering whether their homes would be spared.
On August 29, Hurricane Ida ravaged South Louisiana for hours. The sounds of the raging wind, debris hitting our house, and relentless rain will never leave my memory. Water damage to the interior of our home resulted in our having to totally gut the walls and remove the floors, causing us to move in with my grandmother while waiting on repairs.
In the months following the destruction of Hurricane Ida, I have experienced a wide range of emotions: relief, gratitude, fear, disgust, anger, sadness, and discouragement. I have imagined the residents of Termina and the impending moon fall in Majora’s Mask. The attitudes in the game mirror what people down here displayed: determination to stay in the face of danger, uncertainty about evacuating, or an eagerness to pack and leave.
Most storms are detected approximately a week before they strike land, and their path can change depending on wind shear. The people of South Louisiana are much like the characters in Termina, who have three days to decide their fate. Like Latte, the milk bar in Clock Town, some restaurants and bars even remained open until the day before Ida arrived, offering a brief escape from stress.
We had our own versions of Captain Viscen, the commander of Clock Town’s soldiers who believes everyone should evacuate Clock Town. He argues with Mutoh, the leader of the carpenters, saying, “It seems that giant chunk of rock above us hasn't caught your eye! At this time every year, we are overrun by tourists! So why is the town empty? Clearly, it's your job to ensure the carnival's operation, but that's if people are here for it! Don't drag the merchants and soldiers into this!" Meteorologists and officials urged residents close to the Gulf Coast to evacuate, noting the potential for extensive damage, weeks without electricity, and roadways blocked with downed power lines and trees.
Mutoh, far more concerned with completing the traditional Festival Tower to connect to the Clock Tower for the Carnival of Time, scoffs at the idea of shutting down the celebration and leaving: "Do you actually believe the moon will fall? The confused townsfolk simply caused a panic by believing this ridiculous, groundless theory. The soldiers couldn't prevent the panic, but outside the town walls is where the danger is! You want answers? The answer is that the carnival should not be canceled!" Although festivals and events were canceled prior to the hurricane’s arrival, many folks did not believe the storm would be destructive, noting past experiences with other hurricanes and the community’s ability to recover quickly.
When I first played Majora’s Mask in the early 2000s, I remember questioning why the residents of Termina would stay in the face of impending disaster. “Don’t they want to be safe?” I thought. “Don’t they have somewhere else they can stay?” I was a child under my parents’ care and planning at the time, so I assumed resources like money and a temporary shelter were available to everyone. As I have gotten older, I have realized how much of a privilege evacuating one’s home truly is. If someone in the path of a natural disaster does not have relatives or friends to stay with, then they will have to look for a hotel and pay a daily fee for temporary housing. Driving burns fuel, which costs money, and groceries and meals can deplete one’s savings. While most people with home insurance policies can save their receipts and request reimbursement, the process can take days, weeks, or even months, and some people cannot wait that long as their bills pile up.
Some folks, such as first responders, medical staff, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and caretakers, physically cannot leave their homes or go too far away from them. At the Stock Pot Inn in Clock Town, Anju, her mother, and her grandmother decide to make the short trek to Romani Ranch instead of evacuating Termina completely. I always found that peculiar: sure, Cremia and Anju are close friends, but why wouldn’t Anju and her family strive to depart the land entirely? Cremia has a grim outlook on their fate, saying, "Actually... I know... We're not safe here, either... That's how life goes, I guess. There are some things in life that you can't change no matter how hard you try." Considering Anju’s grandmother’s limited mobility and age, I can imagine she would not have been able to handle a long journey safely.
The day after Hurricane Ida passed, we walked outside to assess the damage. Shingles from our roof and neighbors’ roofs littered our yard. Wood was exposed on the top of our house. Glass from a shattered window lay in the grass, and part of our fence rested on the ground. Power poles and lines lay along the nearby highway. Despite the overwhelming mess our city was faced with clearing, I had to pause and reflect on the most important reminder: no one was hurt. Thus, we contacted our insurance company, checked on family and friends, and began the laborious process of recovery.
After Link vanquishes Majora’s Mask and rids Termina of this evil entity, the town enjoys its beloved Carnival of Time with fireworks, dancing, laughter, and even Anju and Kafei’s wedding ceremony. The heaviness and fear disappear as residents from all areas of the land “[p]ay homage to the way that both nature and time are tirelessly in the process of progressing” (Anju’s grandmother). Because of Link’s courage, harmony has returned.
Typically after a natural disaster, volunteer organizations and federal aid groups like the National Guard flock to the affected region to provide supplies like food, fuel, hygienic products, and other necessities survivors may need. I also witnessed neighbors who had never met helping one another place tarps on roofs, repair generators, share hot meals, and provide any relief they could. The ones who assist during such times remind me of Link with their desire to make someone’s world safer and more comfortable.
I would be lying if I said I have not struggled after the storm. The recovery process is long and sometimes challenging, and seeing my community suffer has hurt my heart. However, even though I am unsure of what challenges the future may bring to our world, I know that love, kindness, and generosity will conquer any real-life “moon fall,” and the dawn of a new day will come.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you well. You can follow me on Twitter @faeriecrypt.
Image Source for Cover Photo: Zelda Universe