The Power of Hurricane Ida
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.
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. In addition, the massive displacement caused issues for health centers and clinics, as many of their staff were forced from their homes and were not able to return under the current conditions
Americares responded to this devastating disaster – a response that began before the storm made landfall.
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 pull through but none as strong as Ida. With no shelters available, he was living out of his car with a 30 day supply of necessary medications for his high blood pressure when aid began to arrive. (Photo/Americares)