Hurricane Ida sends Colorado student scrambling for safety


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (KDVR) — A college student from Colorado had one hour to evacuate as Hurricane Ida approached New Orleans.

Mercedes Ohlen, of Golden, is a student at Tulane University in New Orleans and heard nonstop warnings of the storm’s dangers.

“It was a very stressful situation because we had only been at school a week. So, I don’t think anybody was expecting something so soon,” Ohlen said.

Being from Colorado, Ohlen said she knows nothing about hurricanes — much less one this dangerous.

Back in Golden, Ohlen’s mom was worried.

“I thought, ‘We need an exit strategy,'” said her mom, Karen Brown, a real estate agent. “I texted her and I said, ‘Go to Birmingham,’ and she said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Go to Birmingham.’ We didn’t think we could get out to Denver fast enough.”

The 20-year-old junior was given an hour to evacuate.

“We knew the power was going to go out. At that moment you think: what do I need if things were to be completely flooded or destroyed? Then we thought: what do we do if we can’t get out?” Ohlen said.

Ohlen drove to the safety of a fellow student’s house in Birmingham.

She took pictures of her car, where it was parked and what the weather looked like from her neighborhood.

Her mom was glad she was leaving.

“I think at first we kind of waited to see how bad it would be, and the news coming out was that it was one you wouldn’t gamble on and stay there,” Brown said.

Ohlen left with three changes of clothes.

She’s not sure when she’ll be able to return to New Orleans again.

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