On Sunday, August 29, Hurricane Ida made landfall on the Gulf Coast as a category 4 hurricane, bringing with it 150 mph winds and an influx of water that was so large it reportedly reversed the flow of the Mississippi River temporarily. Ida was one of the largest hurricanes of the last century to hit the Gulf Coast.
Although evacuations for areas in the storm’s path were advised several days prior to the storm, as landfall loomed closer, officials began urging residents to shelter in place to avoid moving during life-threatening conditions. On the day the storm made landfall, which was also the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the high potential for catastrophic impact was made a reality as storm surges, flooding, power outages, structural damage, and threats to life and health quickly ravaged the entire area. More than one million people are now without power as recovery begins.
An Already Dire Situation Made Worse
These direct threats are now exacerbated by the ongoing impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the region, especially Louisiana. The state remains one of the lowest-vaccinated states in the country, and now, emergency hurricane response conditions are further complicated by the ongoing public health crisis.
The area’s health systems – already strained with health care workers caring for surges of COVID-19 patients – now battle an even more precarious situation. Health care facility damage, power outages, lack of access to PPE, shortages of medications and supplies, along with supply chain mobility interruptions have escalated the situation to a critical status.
Fortunately, various groups from across the country are coming together to help healthcare workers in the area in many amazing ways.
Enter Project HOPE
Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization that is mobilizing teams to the Gulf Coast to assess conditions and assist health systems throughout the area. Volunteer health care workers are engaging in a network to provide on-site support as is needed as the leaders of local health systems navigate conditions and address the needs of communities. Partners engaged in the campaign include the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, Healthcare Ready, and several others.
Project HOPE anticipates a large-scale collaborative emergency response effort to serve those who have been most deeply impacted by Hurricane Ida. Founded in 1958, Project HOPE works alongside local health systems to improve healthcare and support community resilience.
Hinds County Provides Rides for Frontline Workers
Another group is helping to ensure that healthcare workers have every available boon possible; the Hinds County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Office has announced that it is providing rides to healthcare workers who are in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. With dangerous flooding, downed trees and power lines, structural damage and other threats, the Sheriff’s Department will “assist in the transport of essential medical personnel to and from hospitals, if needed,” said Interim Hinds County Sheriff Marshand Crisler on Sunday, August 29. Those frontline workers in the area who are in need of a ride can call the Sheriff’s Department at 601-352-1521 for assistance.
Additional Assistance from National Organizations
Dozens of other organizations from across the country are also involved with providing relief to the disaster-struck Gulf Coast, as well.
The American Red Cross currently has more than 60 shelters open and has sent hundreds of workers to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The Salvation Army has units in Texas that are operating more than 35 mobile kitchens, laundry units, and shower units, along with other resources they have made available. Assistance from other groups include that of FEMA, the National Guard, World Vision, several United Way chapters, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, Imagine Water Works, and many others.
For more information on how you can help Hurricane Ida victims, visit any of the websites of the above organizations or the FEMA website.