When Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, La., this past Sunday, nobody was truly prepared for the amount of damage the Category 4 storm would inflict.
The storm churned its way from Louisiana to New York over the course of the week, causing wind damage, power outages, massive flooding, and even nine confirmed tornadoes.
Hurricane Ida is tied for the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States, peaking at 172 mph near where it made landfall.
There have been at least 64 confirmed deaths attributed to Ida. At least 49 of those are from the Northeast as wind, rain, and tornadoes ripped across Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.
So far, the record amounts of rainfall and flooding have been the most devastating aspect of the storm, causing massive amounts of damage and a significant number of fatalities.
An estimated 17 inches of rain were recorded near New Orleans, according to a report by the Washington Post. Newark reported its heaviest rainfall in history, seven rivers in the Northeast reached peak flooding, and Central Park recorded 7.19 inches. Cities throughout the Northeast issued flash-flood warnings; New York City had never done so before Ida barreled through.
These satellite images show a bridge in Somerset, NJ (above) and the TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ (below) before and after Ida swept through. (Photos thanks to Google Earth and Maxar Technologies.)
Over one million people have been left without power in Louisiana alone with another quarter of a million outages reported throughout the Northeast. According to Steve Bowen, a meteorologist at reinsurer AON, the outages are going to be long-term with long-term effects. “The prolonged shut down of businesses… from Ida will lead to ongoing net loss business interruption,” wrote Bowen to the Capital Weather Gang. “The event may finally be over, but damage costs will continue to rise in the near future.”
Recovery expenses in New York alone are exponential. “We’re well in excess of $30 million [in damages],” said New York governor Kathy Hochul in a press briefing Friday morning.
President Biden had approved Emergency Declarations for Mississippi and Louisiana before Hurricane Ida in anticipation of the damage to come.
“These declarations authorized FEMA to provide assistance for emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety in Louisiana and Mississippi and fund emergency protective measures,” the White House announced in an official statement. “The Federal government also proactively pre-positioned resources across the region… including search and rescue equipment, meals, water, generators, equipment, and personnel to assist states with impacts from the storm.”
“We know Hurricane Ida had the potential to cause massive, massive damage,” Biden said in a virtual meeting with leaders involved in response efforts. “…The main thing I want to make clear to all of you is we’re providing any help that you’re going to need.”
According to the report, “FEMA has already delivered more than 4.5 million meals, 3.6 million liters of water, more than 134,000 tarps, nearly 250 generators to the region, and hundreds of additional ambulances have been transported to Louisiana and Mississippi.”
More than 8,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been sent to Louisiana to assist in search and rescue, cleanup, and the distribution of supplies, according to the National Guard Bureau; “36 aircraft, 74 boats, 198 high-water vehicles, generators and engineers” were utilized to rescue hundreds of people in the areas most affected and deliver them to shelter.
Individual states and regions have allocated funds for relief efforts. In the Northeast, New Jersey has made $10 million available for small businesses recovering from the storm, and New York’s Gov. Hochul stated that 14 counties have access to up to $5 million in federal funds.
“We are committed to providing all the necessary resources for New Yorkers to recover from the historic, devastating flooding,” said Hochul in an official statement, “and I have directed all State agencies on the ground to continue to help these impacted areas with cleanup missions.”
In Louisiana, New Orleans fared better than surrounding areas due to its levee system, which had been revamped after Hurricane Katrina made landfall exactly 16 years ago Sunday. The city’s main airport was able to reopen, and running water has been restored to much of the population. However, gas shortages throughout the state have become a monumental issue as people scramble to fill their tanks and fuel their generators. Biden responded to this by ordering a steady supply of fuel to be released from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“We need to get power restored,” said Biden, who visited Louisiana on Friday. “We need to get more food, fuel, and water deployed.”
What You Can Do to Help
Here are different ways to help provide disaster relief for those affected by Hurricane Ida:
- United Way of Southeast Louisiana: United Way works with local organizations to provide support to local communities in need. While the city of New Orleans cannot accept donations, they recommend this avenue. People can donate to the organization here.
- Greater New Orleans Foundation: This is another organization recommended to help those in the greater New Orleans area, and they’re also accepting donations.
- American Red Cross: The Red Cross has set up dozens of evacuation shelters and sent hundreds of volunteers to Louisiana and Mississippi, and those in need of supplies or shelter can call 800-733-2767 for help. To donate, click this link.
- GoFundMe: GoFundMe has their own Hurricane Relief Fund set up through their fundraising site. At the time of writing, they’ve already raised $182,800 of their $200,000 goal.
- Save the Children: The organization focuses primarily on providing relief for those children and families affected by the storms. They’re accepting donations here to help provide diapers, wipes, hygiene kits, and other necessities for families’ most urgent needs.
- Cajun Navy Relief: Founded after Hurricane Katrina, the Cajun Navy Relief provides rescues and supplies to those in need. They’re currently accepting volunteers, taking monetary donations, and distributing donated supplies.