In Louisiana, hundreds of thousands remain without power and water after Ida.
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Local and national volunteers and aid groups are prepared to rescue, feed and give shelter to those who have been affected by Hurricane Ida and its aftermath. Here is some guidance for those who wish to help.
Natural disasters create ripe opportunities for fraudsters who prey on vulnerable people in need and exploit the generous impulses of others who want to donate money to help them. The Federal Communications Commission noted that scammers use phone calls, text messages, email and postal mail, and even go door to door. The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to spot a fraudulent charity or fund-raiser.
Donations of money, rather than of goods, are usually the best way to help, because they are more flexible and can readily be redirected when needs change.
If you suspect that an organization or individual is engaged in fraudulent activity after a natural disaster, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, or to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-866-720-5721. FEMA also maintains a website that fact-checks information about assistance and highlights ways to avoid scams.
All Hands and Hearts prepared for Ida by stationing its disaster assessment and response team in Beaumont, Texas. Its volunteers will enter areas affected by the storm when they can, meeting initial needs that will probably include chain-saw work to clear debris and trees, roof tarping, mucking and gutting flooded houses, and sanitizing homes with mold contamination.
The Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves South Louisiana, has prepared more than 3,500 disaster-readiness food boxes with items like rehydration drinks and nutrition bars, as well as bottled water. It also maintains cooking equipment that can be transported to heat prepared meals. Donations of bottled water and cleaning supplies are welcome. Volunteers can apply to help, but donating money is the most efficient way to assist the aid effort, the organization said.
Culture Aid NOLA has set up an impromptu cooking hub at the Howlin’ Wolf nightclub in New Orleans using thawing food from the freezers of restaurants experiencing power outages. The meals will be distributed to people in need, said Julie Pfeffer, a director. The group, which was originally formed to help people during the pandemic, has a donations page. It needs volunteers, trucks and takeaway containers.
AirLink is a nonprofit humanitarian flight organization that ships aid, emergency workers and medical personnel to communities in crisis. It has joined Operation BBQ Relief to supply equipment, cooks and volunteers to prepare meals for people affected by the storm. Donations are welcome.
SBP, originally known as the St. Bernard Project, was founded in 2006 by a couple in St. Bernard Parish who were frustrated by the slow response after Hurricane Katrina. It focuses on restoring damaged homes and businesses and supporting recovery policies. Its Hurricane Ida plan needs donations, which will pay for supplies for home rebuilding and protective equipment for team members.
A number of volunteer rescue groups operate under some variation of the name Cajun Navy. One is Cajun Navy Relief, a volunteer disaster response team that became a formal nonprofit organization in 2017; it has provided relief and rescue services during more than a dozen of Louisiana’s floods, hurricanes and tropical storms. The team has identified supplies that are needed and is accepting donations.
Rebuilding Together New Orleans, which uses volunteer labor to repair homes, accepts donations to help with its work. The organization has also created an online wish list, and a hotline number: 844-965-1386.
Bayou Community Foundation works with local partners in Terrebonne Parish, Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle in coastal southeast Louisiana. It has set up an Ida relief fund.
Louisiana Baptists, a statewide network of 1,600 churches, has an online form for people to request help in recovery. Its relief efforts include the removal of trees from homes and the tarping of roofs, as well as meals, laundry services and counseling. Those wishing to donate can go here.
AmeriCares, a health-focused relief and development organization, is responding to Ida in Louisiana and Mississippi and matching donations. Vito Castelgrande, the leader of its Hurricane Ida team, said the organization would begin assessing damage in the hardest-hit communities when it is safe to travel.
Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based nonprofit group, was founded in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the hometown of its founder, Gary LeBlanc. The organization has served more than 15 million meals to people affected by natural disasters or who have other needs. The group has deployed two mobile kitchens to serve hot meals in Ida’s wake and is accepting donations.
GoFundMe has created a centralized hub with verified GoFundMe fund-raisers to help those affected by Ida. It will be updated with new fund-raisers as they are verified.
Project HOPE has sent an emergency response team with 11 medical volunteers and has distributed 8,000 hygiene kits, which include items like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, deodorant and first-aid supplies. Donations can be made solely for Hurricane Ida emergency relief.
The Red Cross has mobilized hundreds of trained disaster workers and relief supplies to support people in evacuation shelters. About 600 volunteers were prepared to support Ida relief efforts, and shelters have been opened in Louisiana and Mississippi, with cots, blankets, comfort kits and ready-to-eat meals. The organization has also positioned products needed for blood transfusions. Donations can be made through redcross.org, or 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.
The Salvation Army has prepared field kitchens and other relief supplies to help along the Gulf Coast.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana is collecting donations for a relief fund to rebuild and provide long-term assistance, including community grants.