Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and other regional partners in the path of Hurricane Ida.
Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday, August 29 — on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph. The storm remained a Category 4 for six hours before weakening to Category 3 and eventually becoming a tropical storm. As of Monday afternoon, more than one million people in southeast Louisiana, including all of New Orleans, and more than 100,000 people in Mississippi were without power.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program team was in touch with partners over the weekend and began holding daily coordination calls with impacted dioceses on Monday morning. Disaster response teams are beginning to assess needs created by the hurricane and to determine how best to respond. In Louisiana, the power outages, cellular network outages and flooding are making check-ins with staff and vulnerable communities more difficult. To address this challenge, the Diocese of Louisiana is using AlertMedia, a cloud-based disaster communications tool that allows diocesan staff to easily text congregational leaders to share information. Episcopal Relief & Development and dioceses have successfully used this technology to communicate after previous disasters. The diocese is also coordinating with local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster).
US Disaster Program staff and partners are also using the Episcopal Asset Map as a tool for connecting churches and resources for those in need. The map now has an overlay option that shows the path of Hurricane Ida, which enables users to easily find and connect with the help they need.
“The anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, on top of COVID-19 and previous storms, contributed to the successive trauma felt by many in the South as Hurricane Ida made landfall,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director, US Disaster Program, Episcopal Relief & Development. “At this time, safety is a primary concern. We stand ready to help our partners as soon as it is safe to do so.”