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Crisis Alert: Americares Responds to Hurricane Ida

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StatusCrisis Alert DateAugust 27, 2021 Region Louisiana, Gulf Coast and Caribbean

Hurricane Ida

Updated 9.23.21

On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29, Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana with 150 mph winds as a Category 4 hurricane. Ida formed in the Caribbean on Friday, August 27, and strengthened at frightening speed. One of the worst storms to strike the area since the 1850s made landfall at 11:55 A.M CT near Port Fourchon, Louisiana. A catastrophic storm surge hit the Louisiana coastline. Rainfall across the most heavily impacted areas in Louisiana reached up to 20 inches in under a 24-hour period. Heavy rains In Mississippi contributed to a deadly highway collapse. Tornadoes also struck with the storm’s passage. In Louisiana alone, 26 deaths have been attributed to the storm.

Ida maintained a Category 3 level several hours after landfall as it moved closer to New Orleans, before weakening to a tropical storm. The entire city of New Orleans lost power as the storm terrorized the city. More than two weeks after the storm, more than 23,000 people are still without power in the state, according to Power Outage U.S. and power is not expected to be fully restored until the end of September. Utilities have been restored to hospitals in New Orleans, though many safety net clinics and regional hospitals remain without power and water. The region has still not recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Laura  and other hurricanes in 2020, and the damage from Ida is catastrophic. Ida has reduced entire towns to rubble. Americares is responding to this devastating disaster – a response that began before the storm made landfall.

While these communities pride themselves on resilience, having survived numerous storms over the years, many residents our team spoke with said that this was the worst they have ever experienced. Those that chose to ride out the storm shared stories about having to nail down parts of their house as it was falling apart.

Mandatory evacuations were posted across southern Louisiana, including residents of New Orleans outside the levee system. Thousands of people across the affected areas are still evacuated, living now in hotels, with friends and family across the region, and in shelters. While evacuation orders across the state have been lifted, officials are urging residents of the most heavily affected areas to stay away until services have been restored, or if they can prepare themselves to live without electricity, reliable water supply, or gasoline until the end of the month. The massive displacement is causing issues for health centers and clinics, as many of their staff were forced from their homes and are not able to return under the current conditions.

Ida in the Northeast

The remnants of Ida also caused significant damage as it tracked into the northeastern states later in the week. New York City recorded a new record for rainfall during the storm, measuring 3.1 inches of water per hour at its peak. Dozens of people perished in the Northeast as a result of the storm, including  families trapped in illegal basement apartments, some of the only housing available in the area for low-resource residents.

In advance of the storm, Americares contacted more than 20 partner clinics in Louisiana and Mississippi with offers of assistance. In the storm’s wake, we have reached out to over 100 health partners and response organizations across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. We are fulfilling requests for medicine, bottled water,  hygiene kits and emergency funding to allow health clinics to operate via telehealth services or out of temporary facilities. Americares maintains an emergency pharmacy stocked with essential medicines, vaccines and medical supplies that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The health-focused relief and development organization is also providing flash grants to damaged health centers serving low-income and uninsured residents. Read Press Release

The Focus of Aid

The response focus is three-fold:

  1. Meeting urgent health needs of displaced and impacted survivors
  2. Restoring health services for the most vulnerable, and
  3. Addressing the mental health and psychosocial needs of frontline health workers and responders

Latest Aid Updates

Americares is helping health care providers in the most devastated areas restore health services in the aftermath of the storm. The following organizations received support as of Sept. 10:

  • CrescentCare, a federally qualified health center, received a grant to secure critically needed fuel allowing it to continue operating in New Orleans and via a mobile unit, despite power outages CrescentCAre has received a grant to secure critically needed fuel, allowing a local health center in New Orleans and mobile unit to continue operating despite power outage.
  • Louisiana Rural Health Association received funding to purchase hotspots and long-range radio devices for distribution to Rural Health Centers – enabling them to access electronic health records and maintain critical communication between the health centers and response officials. The Louisiana RHA supports more than 200 health centers, 40 of which operate in the hardest hit communities.
  • Covenant House received emergency funding to relocate homeless youth and their small children from New Orleans to safe housing in Texas with access to continuous health services. 
  • Manna Ministries, a longtime Americares partner based in Picayune, Miss, received emergency funding to purchase essential medicines and telehealth equipment to provide health services to Mississippi residents affected by the hurricane as well as evacuees from Louisiana unable to return home.
  • InclusivCare, a federally qualified health center with six clinics in Southeast Louisiana, received emergency funding to hire additional medical personnel, support a crisis hotline, and purchase equipment to continue to provide urgent health services, including COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
  • Odyssey House Louisiana, a federally qualified health center that provides primary care services and treatment for substance abuse, received emergency funding to purchase portable power stations and solar-powered generators to power essential clinic equipment and provide community members with access to charging stations.
  • Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network received emergency funding to purchase assistive technology and durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, shower chairs, walkers, oxygen tanks, and nebulizers for evacuees at mega shelters in Alexandria and Shreveport, or delivered directly to survivors whose personal equipment was damaged or left behind following the hurricane.

The Team at Work

Americares emergency responses experts are  currently on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi working with health care providers and local responders in affected communities to meet the most urgent health needs. Americares is delivering relief supplies such as gloves, masks, medical supplies, water and cleaning products. Americares is also providing emergency funding to allow health centers to fuel generators and keep their doors open.

“Many of the health facilities in the hardest-hit parishes are still closed—including hospitals,” said Americares Hurricane Ida Response Team Leader Vito Castelgrande. “The longer the power is out, the more heat-related illnesses and medical emergencies we can anticipate. We’re supporting health centers that are often the only source of care for miles around.”

As Americares team moved through the affected areas of Louisiana, they encountered the personal devastation suffered by the residents of the communities like Houma savaged by Ida.

Sylvester “Sly” Smith Jr., long time resident of Houma, Louisiana, stands in front of his damaged home caused by Hurricane Ida. Mr. Smith has witnessed many storms pass through but none as strong as Ida. With no shelters available, he is living out of his car with a 30 day supply of necessary medications for his high blood pressure, August 31, 2021. (Photo/Americares) .

Americares has many partners in the Gulf region, many of whom are still recovering from multiple hurricane landfalls in recent years. We have a long history of responding to disasters in these communities and supporting the long recovery from each one.