Hurricane Ida, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States, has caused at least five deaths, and knocked out power in New Orleans amid extremely hot and humid weather. Power returned in parts of the city on Wednesday, but utility company Entergy said in a statement that restoring power to everyone “will still take time given the significant damage” to the city’s power grid, and that it would focus first on places like hospitals and nursing homes. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana residents should not return to their homes until it is safe. The death toll is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue.
Gas, food and potable water remain scarce, and local governments are scrambling to recover from flooding and infrastructure damage. As Louisiana struggles with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the storm has put additional pressure on the state’s medical infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency noted that four hospitals sustained damage and dozens of medical facilities had to operate on generator power.
After making landfall on Sunday — on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — the Category 4 hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Here are ideas for how to help.
- The American Red Cross is providing food, water and temporary shelter to those affected by Hurricane Ida. Donate to their efforts here.
- Imagine Water Works is a local nonprofit in Louisiana that focuses on climate justice, water management and disaster preparedness and response. The organization created a hurricane preparedness guide and is collecting donations through their Mutual Aid Response Network to help with recovery and relief.
- Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is seeking volunteers to help affected people on the ground and provide supplies. If you want to volunteer, you can fill out this form. If you need food, medical help or other kinds of assistance, you can fill out this form.
- NOLA Ready is seeking volunteers to help sort and distribute resources, among other duties, to help with New Orleans’ emergency response. Sign up to volunteer here.
- Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative, a racial justice group in the Gulf area, is working to connect people who are less likely to receive resources from mainstream organizations with assistance by distributing donations directly to “indigenous, Black, and brown frontline folks impacted by Hurricane Ida and groups who currently don’t have online donations capacity, as well as directly to individual families impacted by the storm.” To support their efforts, donate here.
- Cajun Navy Relief is organizing volunteers to rescue and distribute supplies to people in need. Donate here, or request rescue and supplies, but if you need immediate assistance call 9-1-1.
- All Hands and Hearts rebuilds infrastructure after natural disasters. Donate to their Hurricane Ida recovery efforts here.
- International Medical Corps is responding to Hurricane Ida and is currently evaluating needs for staff, supplies and equipment. Help fund their efforts here.
- Save the Children is sending an emergency response team to affected regions. Donate to their efforts here.
- Project HOPE is responding to urgent medical needs and other relief. Donate here.
How to avoid charity scams
- Avoid unfamiliar agencies and websites. There is a history of scammers creating websites that look like donation pages after a major tragedy, but in reality were a scam.
- Make sure that where you’re donating is a legitimate organization or a group that has a proven record of delivering aid.
- Beware of phone calls and emails soliciting donations.
- Do your research to determine if organizations are legitimate. Charity Navigator lists reputable organizations. Great Nonprofits and Give Well has reviews of nonprofit groups and can help you see how much of your money goes directly to relief.
If you or a loved one are experiencing emotional distress from Hurricane Ida, call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.