Hurricane Ida victim remembered for her big heart
LAFITTE, La. (AP) — Emily Boffone used to refer to herself as “Heinz 57” for the way her mixed ethnic heritage, including Indian and Filipino ancestry, reminded her of the brand’s advertised “57 varieties” of products. She was also an amazing cook. But Nora Indovina mostly remembers her mother for the big heart that led her to work tirelessly in support of every charity around.
Boffone, 65, was killed on Sunday during Hurricane Ida, trapped in her Lafitte, Louisiana, home by floodwaters.
Speaking on Thursday, Indovina called Buffone “the most compassionate and caring person. … She would do anything for anybody.” Her love extended to her two dogs, who survived the storm and were rescued, Indovina said.
Buffone worked for years in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, first in tax collection and later at the booking intake, before retiring five years ago. But her passion was the Harry-ettes, an all-female group she formed to support former Sheriff Harry Lee and the many charity endeavors his office undertook. They included golf tournaments, an annual Cajun ball called a fais-dodo, and a Mardis Gras float that helped benefit a children’s cancer charity.
Boffone grew up in nearby Belle Chasse before moving to Lafitte with her husband, who was a deputy chief in the sheriff’s office, and Indovina, her only child. Boffone had five brothers but “she was the strongest out of all of them,” Indovina said. “She was strong-willed. She spoke her mind.”
Indovina moved to Missouri in 2016, but she continued to talk to her mother “at least eight or nine times a day.”
“She was the best mom in the entire world,” she said, speaking by phone from the car as she and her family made their way to Louisiana to take care of the funeral and other arrangements.
Indovina’s 13-year-old son, Francis, agreed from the back seat, saying the person he called “Mimi” was kind, sweet, loving, and never forgot a birthday. “She was the best Mimi,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better Mimi.”
Prior to Sunday’s hurricane, Boffone had decided to ride out the storm. Her neighbor was also staying, and she thought he could help her in an emergency, Indovina said. But the water rose too fast.
Indovina called various officials, trying to find someone who could help her mother evacuate. “I told them she was on oxygen, so she wouldn’t be OK if the power goes out,” Indovina said. “Last time we talked, I told her to get her stuff together because they’re coming to get you. She told me she was waist-deep and floating. She rushed me off the line.”
When Indovina tried to call back, she just got a busy signal. “I guess they couldn’t get to her,” she said.