Hurricane Ida: How to Help
Charitable agencies help communities in need after natural disasters. But there are also fraudsters preying on the emotion and helplessness that follows the destruction.
Here are some ways to help victims of the storm.
Several relief groups focus their work on repairing storm-damaged homes and businesses. Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Aug. 30, 2021Updated 2:55 p.m. ET
Hurricane Ida’s devastating winds, flooding and heavy rains swept through southeastern Louisiana on Sunday, and the brunt of its destructive path became apparent on Monday: Homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people were left without power.
Local and national volunteers and aid groups are prepared to rescue, feed, and give shelter to those who have been affected. Here is some guidance for those who wish to help.
Before you give, do your research.
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 funds 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.
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 FEMA at 1-866-720-5721.
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.
Here are some local organizations in the storm area.
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 donations of money are the most efficient way to assist the aid effort, the organization said.
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 can be made here.
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; donations can be made here.
Here are national organizations lending a helping hand.
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 will 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 home town 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. Donations can be made here.
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 and 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 800-RED-CROSS, or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana is collecting donations for a relief fund to rebuild and provide long-term assistance, including community grants.