LAKE CHARLES, La. (NewsNation Now) — Sheletta Brundidge says her family is used to dealing with hurricanes, but the aftermath of Hurricane Laura proved to be particularly devastating for her family.
“Hurricanes are like a dime a dozen down south. If you evacuated every time someone said a hurricane was coming you’d never stay home,” said Brundidge.
Although Brundidge now lives in Minnesota with her family, many of her relatives are back home in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She says most of them decided to play it safe and evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura last week, but a few had no choice but stay behind.
“My Aunt Rosa was in the late stages of dementia,” she said. “It’s very difficult for her to leave the home and her husband, of course, was not going to leave her side.”
Brundidge says her aunt, two uncles and two cousins all stayed behind, hunkered down and successfully weathered the storm.
“The first night after the storm after we checked in with everybody they were all fine! Everybody was good nobody was hurt,” said Brundidge.”
Things took an unimaginable turn just a day later.
“When I talked to my mother she broke the news to me: that my daddy’s sister Rosa Lewis, his brother Clyde Handy, his niece Rosa’s daughter Kimberly Evans and her husband Chris Evans had all died from carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to that my uncle Charles Lewis Sr. was in critical condition.”
Her Uncle Charles would ultimately lose his battle as well.
“He was on life support and he passed away today.”
Five deaths, at essentially the same time, in the same family.
“At one time we had five relatives who died tragically and suddenly after just talking to them the night before,” Brundidge said.
It turns out the family’s generator — which they needed after losing power — would ultimately cause their deaths.
“That particular night the wind was blowing and partially closed the garage door and that sent the fumes into the house,” said Brundidge.
She says the extended family eventually plans to have all five funerals together.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 people die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year.