Sixteen years after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida hit southeastern Louisiana hard on Sunday. According to the New York Times, winds of 150 mph ran through the city: from the wreckage, one million people in Louisiana (including all of New Orleans) have no power. At the time of publication of this piece, there have been three deaths due to the storm.
One piece of good news from the hurricane is that the city's precautions after Katrina have largely worked. However, damage due to the high winds have complicated and slowed rescue and recovery efforts. Downed power lines and trees are blocking roadways, and downed cell phone towers have left many without cellular or internet service. Because of the extent of the damage, the power could reportedly be out for up to 6 weeks.
As we wait for flood waters to recede, recovery teams work to clear roadways, rescue crews reach those stranded, and electric crews work to restore power, new needs will surely arise: clearing and rebuilding homes and buildings, access to food and shelter, and more.
Here are some of the people and organizations working in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida, and how you can help, too:
Where are people already showing up to help in Louisiana?
In the context of the heartbreak, pain, and injustice of the world, Fred Rogers once said:
WHEN I WAS A BOY AND I WOULD SEE SCARY THINGS IN THE NEWS, MY MOTHER WOULD SAY TO ME, "LOOK FOR THE HELPERS. YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING."
At Good Good Good, that’s what we do. We look for the helpers. And we always find them.
Right now, rescue and relief crews in Louisiana are spending most of their time and attention on responding to this tragedy — and less time sharing about the good that they’re doing and seeing. Additionally, power lines and cell phone towers are down, complicating communication efforts. So a great deal of good news is being created — but it's not all publicly available yet.
In the coming days, we expect to see lots more stories of helpers coming out of Louisiana via local journalists, social media, and contacts on the ground — and when we do, we’ll update this story.
Here are the helpers we've seen so far:
World Central Kitchen's chefs are already on the ground serving meals to people impacted by the storm — and those helping with recovery efforts.
With much attention focused on New Orleans, the Louisiana-based Cajun Navy is headed to smaller towns to help clear roads.
Houston's Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale announced a massive relief effort to help families impacted by the storm, and sent a convoy of 30 trucks with "all the normal things for hurricanes," like water, non-perishable food, diapers, formula, pet food, toiletries, and more — all donated by Houstonians. Mattress Mack also opened his furniture store, Gallery Furniture, to all evacuees from Louisiana to stay at for free.
Before Hurricane Ida: Following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans invested $14.5 billion into a flood protection system that worked to prevent the city from flooding. And it's proven quite effective. One organization, Glass Half Full, created a glass recycling center that turned used bottles into sandbags to protect the community.
How to help or get help if you're in Louisiana:
Take care of your physical safety.
If you're in physical danger, or need to be rescued, request help from the Cajun Navy. If you evacuated, officials in Louisiana are advising not to return until it's safe to do so. Power lines are still down, roadways are blocked by trees and debris.
If you are safe at home, stay there.
Downed cell phone towers and power lines have complicated recovery and rescue efforts. As authorities work to clear the roads, if you are safe at home, try to stay off the roads to minimize traffic.
Take care of your mental health, too.
Ida is one of the largest storms to hit the U.S., and with this storm landing in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it's likely bringing up a lot of traumatizing memories.
Whether you sheltered in place during Hurricane Ida, or are feeling triggered by the similarities in devastation Hurricane Katrina caused — reach out to Crisis Text Line for support. Text SHARE to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor.
If you have the means, join the Cajun Navy.
The Cajun Navy is seeking volunteers, and you can fill out this form to join their relief efforts.
How to help if you're not in Louisiana
Support existing relief efforts and people already in Louisiana. While there may be opportunities to do so in the future, right now it's not safe to travel to the states impacted by the storm to help in-person.
To support experienced local volunteers rescuing people and providing supplies, donate to Cajun Navy Relief.
The Cajun Navy is a grassroots volunteer organization made up of locals with boats and other resources to help rescue efforts.
To support an established local water conservation organization with their disaster relief efforts, donate to Imagine Water Works.
Imagine Water Works is a New Orleans-based organization focused on water management, conservation, and environmental issues like climate change. They also organize both disaster preparedness and relief efforts in the area when needed.
To help feed people impacted by the storm, donate to World Central Kitchen.
World Central Kitchen provides food to people in need in the wake of natural disasters wherever and whenever they hit around the world. Founded by world-renowned Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen activates chefs around the world to ensure people have this basic need met.
To help take care of animals impacted by the storm, donate to the Louisiana SPCA.
While they evacuated a lot of animals before the storm, the Louisiana SPCA is also helping rescue and care for animals left behind.
We'll be updating this story as we find more Helpers — and opportunities to become Helpers. Please share this story to help more people get the support they need.