“You can’t imagine the damage. You see it on TV, but until you see it in person, you don’t understand it,” said Gene Woolsey, a volunteer on site distributing supplies to victims.
After Hurricane Ida ripped through many small communities in Louisiana, residents continue to rebuild their lives and piece back together so much that was ruined, not knowing how long it will take for a sense of normalcy to return.
A Category 4 hurricane, Ida damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, caused significant flooding and mass power outages, contaminated water, and caused billions in damage across Louisiana and neighboring states. One million people in Louisiana were left without electricity, forcing many hurricane victims to survive in their damaged homes without air conditioning (in the dangerous summer heat) or a means to prepare or store food.
“Everybody lost their house in the area where I stay. All the roofs are off. It’s just been horrible: no water, no lights,” said Houma, Louisiana resident LaTonya Murphy.
LaTonya, 12 weeks pregnant, and her three children took cover in their home during the storm.
“It was very scary. We had to pile up in one room, in the closet,” she said.
As she hunkered down, she could hear her house breaking apart around her amidst 150 mph winds. Although LaTonya’s house was heavily damaged, it remained standing. She felt like one of the lucky ones, especially compared to many of her neighbors.
LaTonya received food, tarps, and a solar lantern, along with other essential relief supplies, at a distribution center supported by IRT. Thanks to your quick response following this disaster, we were able to rush these items to the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana to support LaTonya and her children during this very challenging time.
“I spent three hurricanes here already and this has been the worst,” said Hurricane Ida victim Jorge Rodriguez.
Post-storm, Jorge and his family were surviving in their damaged home without running water, electricity, or food, just like so many other Ida victims.
“We’ve got a little food in the house, but most of the food is gone already,” Jorge said. “It gets rotten if you have no power, so you have to throw it away.”
After several days, Jorge discovered the distribution center with free relief supplies supported by IRT.
“It means a lot. Just a little bit helps,” he said upon receiving emergency relief supplies for the first time since the storm.
Another victim, Amber, commented that “the kindness, it was so needed. We often feel judged for not evacuating, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. To evacuate, you have to have a ton of money upfront, and that’s hard for a lot of people.”
Families often have no choice but to stay where they are and endure whatever consequences the storm brings their way. Thanks to your support, we rushed $100,000 worth of ready-to-eat meals, 2,500 solar lanterns, and more than 5,300 tarps to families who were left homeless, without power, or living in damaged homes.
“This distribution was different,” Amber said. “I did not feel like I was a burden. That interaction made my whole day.”
Not only was Amber’s family’s needs met, but the caring support and supplies from people she has never met before have helped give her strength to move forward.