The headlines are filled with the devastation from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall near New Orleans on August 29 — exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina. As a strong Category 4 storm, Hurricane Ida’s 150 mph winds, torrential rain and strong storm surge caused widespread flooding and wind damage in southeastern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. Homes are flooded and residents are awaiting rescue, which is hampered by the high waters and debris-clogged roads. Strong winds knocked out power lines and electrical substations, leaving more than 1 million people without power, including the entirety of New Orleans. In some areas, electricity is not expected to be restored for weeks. Ida weakened into a tropical storm as it moved inland and will likely cause heavy flooding in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Tennessee and Upper Ohio valleys.
On September 1, the remnants of Hurricane Ida barreled through the Northeast, leaving devastation in their wake. New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were hit with historic flash flooding and tornadoes touched down in Maryland and New Jersey. Homes and subways filled with water, and cars were swept away. The death toll is expected to rise, and authorities continue to work on restoring transportation services.
Meanwhile, information regarding the extent of the destruction in Louisiana and parts of Mississippi continues to trickle in, and the damage will undoubtedly be more severe than we know today. In Louisiana, some evacuees have been told not to return because many areas remain without electricity and people are struggling to find gas, food and clean water. With power lines down and communication hindered, many are waiting for relief in dangerous 90-degree heat.
Lutheran Disaster Response is developing plans to accompany on-the-ground partners, including social ministry organizations and synods, in the areas impacted. Immediate needs are expected to include food and shelter, while long-term recovery could include helping people repair or rebuild their damaged homes.
We pray that God’s presence will be felt in the midst of suffering and bring comfort to those who are hurting. Together, we can show our neighbors that they are not alone.