‘Do not return here,’ Louisiana’s governor tells evacuees, as power outages remained widespread.

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LiveUpdated Aug. 31, 2021, 1:46 p.m. ETAug. 31, 2021, 1:46 p.m. ET

With power out, roads blocked and services like water and sewerage disrupted in many places, return may not be safe for days to come, officials say.

Hurricane damage in Houma, La., two days after Ida made landfall.
Hurricane damage in Houma, La., two days after Ida made landfall.Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

With electricity still out for hundreds of thousands of customers and a punishing heat settling over southern Louisiana, officials warned on Tuesday that recovery from Hurricane Ida could take days or even weeks, and search-and-rescue efforts continued for those still stranded in the storm’s aftermath.

Gov. John Bel Edwards put the situation in stark terms and offered no timeline for when the state would be able to welcome back residents who had fled the storm.

“Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present, they’re not operating right now,” Mr. Edwards said in a news conference in LaPlace, La., on Tuesday. “So if you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in southeast Louisiana until the office of emergency preparedness tells you it’s ready to receive you.”

More than a million utility customers remained without power on Tuesday, including much of New Orleans, where all eight transmission lines that ordinarily deliver power to the city were knocked out of service. In Mississippi, about 60,000 customers lacked electricity, according to reports compiled by PowerOutage.us.

Inability to run air-conditioning threatened to become a dangerous problem for vulnerable residents of the region, as heat and humidity made the air in much of southern Louisiana and Mississippi feel hotter than 100 degrees on Tuesday.

A darkened New Orleans skyline on Monday, when most of the city was without power following Hurricane Ida. It was unclear when electricity would be restored.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Like the governor, local officials warned residents who left ahead of the storm to stay away for now. Basic services like emergency response, and everyday amenities of modern life like water, sewage and passable roadways, could not be guaranteed in many places, they said.

Residents who stayed behind surveyed the damage and expressed a lingering feeling of having been hit by something far stronger than they had expected.

“Katrina was a picnic for us, compared to what this one was,” said Ronald Dufrene, 63, who rode out the storm in his 103-foot long steel shrimp boat on the bayou near his home in Jean Lafitte, La.

Many houses around his suffered roof damage, and some that were supported on low cement pilings had “drifted off,” he said, and were now awkwardly perched in a neighbor’s yard. “It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” Mr. Dufrene said.

At least five deaths have been attributed to the storm, officials said. In Louisiana, a man was killed while driving in New Orleans; a woman was found dead in Jean Lafitte, south of the city; and a man was killed in Prairieville, about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, where a tree fell on a house. In Mississippi, two people were killed and 10 were injured when a highway collapsed.

Ida, now a tropical depression, produced strong rains across the Middle Tennessee Valley on Tuesday as it moved northeastward, and meteorologists issued a flash flood watch for the area, which was still reeling from severe flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. The storm and its threat of flooding were expected to reach the Mid-Atlantic states on Wednesday, with the potential for three to six inches of rain there, the National Hurricane Center said.

Entergy, a major power company in Louisiana, said on Monday that it would probably “take days to determine the extent of damage to our power grid and far longer to restore electrical transmission to the region.”

Some local officials warned that outages could stretch as long as a month.

The levee system around New Orleans, upgraded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to better protect the city from flooding, did its job, officials said. But two days after the storm, the relief that residents might feel at having dodged one devastating possibility dissipated in the sweltering heat and the dispiriting search for an open store to buy basics.

“I don’t know what we are going to do,” said Gerardo Caal, 41. “There’s no food. And we don’t have electricity to cook.”

New Orleans residents lined up in their cars and on foot to get gas at a station on North Rampart Street in New Orleans on Tuesday. 
New Orleans residents lined up in their cars and on foot to get gas at a station on North Rampart Street in New Orleans on Tuesday. Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

NEW ORLEANS — Nearly all of the built city survived this time. But the misery has already arrived in New Orleans, after Hurricane Ida punched up the city on Sunday night.

It was especially pronounced on a stretch of South Claiborne Avenue, a busy, workaday traffic artery crowded with gas stations and convenience stores. Nearly all of them were closed on Tuesday, but the place was thrumming with nervous, negative energy — and with people suffering and scheming, or not sure where to go or what to do.

On the corner of Josephine Street, dozens of Spanish-speaking day workers crowded around a reporter when they heard the conversation turn to food. There were about 40 Hispanic men, all hoping to catch a cleanup job. But no vans or trucks came by. The sun was beating strong. The men were sweating.

Gerardo Caal, a 41-year-old man from Guatemala in a baseball cap, served as a kind of unofficial spokesman. “I don’t know what we are going to do,” he said. “There’s no food. And we don’t have electricity to cook.”

A few yards away, a line of cars stretching for blocks ended at one of the few open gas stations in the area. Malcolm Scott, 60, said he had been waiting for hours to get gas. He was not trying to get out of town, he said, but to move from New Orleans East — which was devastated by flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — to his girlfriend’s place on the third floor of an apartment building. He said he was afraid that the levees might still be breached.

As for leaving town, he chuckled, darkly, “Ain’t nowhere to go.”

“People don’t want New Orleans people no more, since Katrina,” he said. “They think we’re the worst of the worst.”

Mr. Scott said he had no idea how to get access to some of the emergency services that were popping up around the city.

“How’re you going to go to the website, when all the phones are cut off?” he said. “We don’t have no food. Hopefully FEMA will come, but it’s getting real dangerous right now.”

A block away, a New Orleans Police Department cruiser was parked outside a Family Dollar store that appeared to have been looted; its front door was smashed in. The officers would not comment, and in mid-conversation, they zoomed off toward the sound of other sirens.

Inside the store, bottles of hair-care products and food were strewn on the floor along with broken glass from the front door. Two employees were recording the damage on their phones. “I guess we’re not coming back to work for two months,” said one of them, a young woman. “We knew this was going to happen.”

A black sedan pulled up with a family inside. The worker said that the store did not have anything for sale.

“No diapers, no nothing?” a voice said from inside the car.

The young worker shrugged.

A man stepped out of the car, looked over his shoulders, and stepped through the hole in the Dollar Store door.

Damage in LaPlace, La., on Tuesday. 
Damage in LaPlace, La., on Tuesday. Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

New Orleans

Darkness falling over the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans on Monday. The entire city of New Orleans has been left without power after Hurricane Ida.Credit…Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Because of what they had gone through after Hurricane Katrina, when they were only teenagers, Terrell Reynolds, 33, and Kortney Lindsey, 32, evacuated to Houston with their four children and two other relatives before Ida struck.

But now they are frantic, unsure when they can return to their jobs in New Orleans and their apartment in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Officials told them not to return because the city has no electricity for the foreseeable future. Public schools are closed until further notice.

“We’re borrowing money to pay for a room for tonight,” said Mr. Reynolds, adding that many other people in the hotel were in a similar position.

Even if they get financial assistance, the family would need to clean out its refrigerator and recover some toys and clothes before feeling comfortable staying away from home. Mr. Reynolds said he also wanted to pick up the beaded patches he was sewing for an elaborate Mardi Gras suit.

“We didn’t prepare to stay away for a long time,” he said. “No one thought it was going to be like this.”

— Katy Reckdahl

LaPlace, La.

A flooded home in LaPlace, La., on Monday.Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

Ida’s powerful winds shredded much of LaPlace, a city west of New Orleans, where rescue crews on Monday were using one street as a launch ramp for their boats.

Shopping centers looked pulverized with their roofs shorn off and their parking lots covered in debris. Utility poles and trees had splintered. Traffic lights dangled over intersections, hanging by a thread.

Those who rode out the hurricane there described a harrowing encounter with the storm’s force, with wind kicking up water to create a blinding mist.

“It was zero to 60 — quick, real quick,” a local rapper who performs as O.G. Purpin said as he and a friend carried a barbecue grill out of the flooded neighborhood.

“This was Katrina times two,” said his friend, who gave his name as Jeff.

On Sunday night, the rapper had huddled with his girlfriend, her family and their pets in an attic as the storm swirled around the house. It was early in the morning when rescuers came by and pulled them to safety.

— Rick Rojas

HOUMA, La.

Floodwaters surrounded a statue of Jesus at St. Pius Church in Marrero, La., on Monday.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Alani, 5, was not ready to be consoled outside the civic center turned hurricane shelter in Houma, playing with a stick she had found in a nearby pile of debris.

“She doesn’t want to be around nobody,” said her mother, Alexis Johnson, who is in her 20s. “I just tell her: Everything is going to be fine. We just have to believe in God.”

The family is one of many that sought shelter when Hurricane Ida spread misery throughout southeastern Louisiana.

In this city of about 33,000 people 60 miles from New Orleans, the storm leveled buildings, smashed trees into houses and filled entire blocks with debris. Thousands remained without power, food, gas and, more important, a sense of security, residents said.

Ida’s wrath arrived at Ms. Johnson’s mobile home on Sunday afternoon. She had been lying in bed listening to the walls tremble, she recalled, when the roof peeled off. She held on to Alani and fled for the shelter as soon as it felt safe.

Hours later, they sat under the baking sun wondering about their next steps.

“I can’t go home,” Ms. Johnson said. “We have nothing left.”

— Edgar Sandoval

Jefferson Parish, La.

Evacuees consoling each other in Jefferson Parish on Monday.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Craig Mills was grateful his family did not evacuate, choosing instead to battle the storm from his sister’s home in a Jefferson Parish suburb of New Orleans.

“We had a couple small leaks in the house,” he said. “So if we hadn’t been here, it would have been extensive water damage if that water started coming in.”

While there has been no damage to the house or flooding, the family did lose power at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, before Hurricane Ida made landfall. On Monday, Mr. Mills drove to a Lowe’s in search of cellphone reception.

Mr. Mills said the motivation for staying put included the knowledge that the house had withstood damage from Hurricane Katrina, as well as concern about the number of people in New Orleans who are not vaccinated for the coronavirus.

“Escaping for escape’s sake wasn’t necessarily the answer,” he said.

As the family hunkered down, the biggest concern was rationing food and gas while waiting for power to be restored. There was enough for a week’s worth of meals, and the family was relying on a generator.

“We have two containers for gas,” he said, “and we are trying to conserve energy to keep the fridge cool, and use the fan every once in a while.”

— Giulia Heyward

Destruction in Waverly, Tenn., last week. The central part of the state, which was struck by deadly flash flooding less than two weeks ago, is preparing for more potential flooding from Ida.
Destruction in Waverly, Tenn., last week. The central part of the state, which was struck by deadly flash flooding less than two weeks ago, is preparing for more potential flooding from Ida.Credit…Brandon Dill for The New York Times

The remnants of Hurricane Ida were expected to bring stormy conditions to a large swath of the United States, from Tennessee to Massachusetts, over the next few days.

As of 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Ida, now downgraded to a tropical depression, was about 100 miles southwest of Nashville and moving northeast across the Tennessee Valley at 15 miles per hour. The storm was producing heavy rain and had maximum sustained winds of 30 m.p.h., according to the National Hurricane Center.

“The flooding threat is definitely not ended,” the National Weather Service in Nashville said. “Please stay vigilant.”

A flash flood watch was in effect through Tuesday night for portions of Middle Tennessee, where up to six inches of rain was expected. Prolonged heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding, the center said.

“A considerable amount of rain has already fallen and there are flood advisories currently in effect for portions of Middle Tennessee,” the Weather Service said. At least 21 people were killed this month when a catastrophic flash flood swept through a rural area west of Nashville.

The western edge of North Carolina was also under a flash flood watch through Wednesday afternoon.

As the storm makes its way northeast, much of Kentucky, the southern portion of Ohio, West Virginia, a large swath of Virginia and points up to Massachusetts were also under a flash flood watch through at least Thursday. Areas across southern New England could see up to four inches of rain, with some isolated higher amounts, from Wednesday into Thursday.

There was also a threat for a few tornadoes on Tuesday across eastern Alabama, western Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. The threat will shift to portions of the Mid Atlantic on Wednesday.

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The storm, which moved into Mississippi as a powerful hurricane before being downgraded to a tropical depression, washed away part of a major highway, causing at least two deaths.CreditCredit…Sean Rayford/Getty Images

While Louisiana bore the brunt of Ida, the storm also cut into Mississippi as a powerful hurricane, toppling trees, bringing down power lines and washing away part of a highway, causing at least two deaths.

The deaths occurred when a section of major highway collapsed in George County, in the state’s southeast, said Malary White, the external affairs director for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Ten other people were injured.

“Compared to Louisiana, we caught a big break,” Ms. White said. “But unfortunately two people did lose their lives, and that’s where it impacted us.”

Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Sunday morning in Louisiana, reached the Mississippi Gulf Coast by early Monday, and was downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reached central Mississippi on Monday afternoon.

As of Tuesday morning, at least 130,000 people were without power in their homes, according to David Cox, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Jackson, Miss.

Ms. White said the state expected to have a preliminary damage assessment by Wednesday, and was considering applying for a federal disaster declaration.

Floodwater blocked access on Monday to a bridge  leading to Jean Lafitte, La., over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Floodwater blocked access on Monday to a bridge leading to Jean Lafitte, La., over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

The effects of Hurricane Ida will be felt far from where it made landfall in southern Louisiana on Sunday. As it moves across the Upper Ohio Valley and toward the Northeast later in the week, it is likely to cause heavy downpours, including up to 10 inches of rain in some parts of the Mid-Atlantic. More than 80 million Americans were under a flood watch or advisory, with the majority associated with Ida’s heavy rains.

Although scientists are not yet certain about how climate change affects every characteristic of tropical cyclones, there is broad consensus that a warming climate will bring more extreme and heavy rainfall during storms. Warming increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which in turn can produce more rain.

“We tend to think that once tropical storms move over land they run out of fuel,” said Rosimar Rios-Barrios, a research meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. But the winds in a tropical storm can extend thousands of miles from its center. In this case, even as Ida moves inland, Dr. Rios-Barrios said, it will continue to draw in very warm, wet air from over the Gulf of Mexico and wrap it around its cyclone. That air can contribute to worsening rainfall.

“We are seeing this increase in extreme rainfall for all types of events,” said Suzana Camargo, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “But with hurricanes, we would expect more intense rainfall. That’s what happened with Ida.”

The amount of rainfall associated with a tropical cyclone has to do with how hard it rains and for how long, which itself depends on a cyclone’s speed. Rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest tropical cyclone on record, dropped more than 60 inches in eastern Texas in 2017. The heavy rain, and subsequent flooding, was caused in part by the hurricane stalling near the coastline.

Ida was continuing to move at around 10 to 15 miles an hour, “an expected pace,” said Dr. Rios-Barrios. The primary weather system in the United States moves in a general V-shaped pattern. Winds from the Western United States move south toward the Gulf of Mexico, then turn toward the northern Atlantic. But other weather systems can bring currents in opposing directions, changing the direction of a storm or altering its speed.

As a tropical cyclone moves farther inland, its path is driven by a contrast in temperature. Dr. Rios-Barrios said that may be one reason central Pennsylvania and West Virginia are expected to see such extreme rainfall, up to 10 inches in some places. There, the cyclone may develop a warm front, which will lift the air, create clouds, and produce more rainfall.

Many of these areas in the storm’s path have already received exceptional rain this summer, leaving some rivers higher and soils more saturated, worsening the risk of flooding. The Middle Tennessee Valley, which experienced flash flooding earlier this month that killed at least 20 people, may see up to four inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Whether climate change made Ida and the scope of its flooding more likely, and if so, by how much, won’t be known until scientists can perform an attribution study, a type of research that quantifies the links between climate change and specific extreme weather events.

But scientists agree that Ida is a harbinger of future hurricanes. “If our planet continues to warm at the alarming pace that it is warming, then Ida is an example of what we might expect to see in the future,” said Dr. Rios-Barrios. “That’s very scary.”

A Shell petrochemical plant in Norco, La., on Monday, a day after Hurricane Ida swept through.
A Shell petrochemical plant in Norco, La., on Monday, a day after Hurricane Ida swept through. Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The most intense hurricane on record to strike Louisiana swept through one of the nation’s largest chemical, petroleum and natural gas hubs. And while it may take days or weeks for the full extent of the storm’s impact to become clear, early reports of damage have heightened concerns over the vulnerability of the region’s fossil fuel infrastructure to intensifying storms.

On Monday, officials warned that floodwaters had spilled over a temporary levee erected near a Phillips 66 refinery in Plaquemines, the state’s southernmost parish and one of the most severely affected by Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. In neighboring St. Bernard Parish, almost two dozen barges unmoored by Hurricane Ida’s 150-mile-per-hour winds damaged the dock at the giant Valero Refinery. News photos showed extensive flooding and dark flares at Shell’s refining and chemical complex in Norco, farther inland.

Earlier hurricanes, including Harvey in 2017 and Laura in 2020, caused oil and chemical releases from storage tanks and other installations along the coast.

Bernardo Fallas, a spokesman for Phillips 66, said the company would “conduct a post-storm assessment of the refinery and its levees when it is safe to do so.” The refinery “completed a safe and orderly shutdown of operations” ahead of Ida’s arrival, he said.

Louisiana’s 17 oil refineries account for nearly one-fifth of the nation’s refining capacity, with the ability to process about 3.4 million barrels of crude oil per day, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. In 2020, Louisiana’s two liquefied natural gas export terminals shipped out about 55 percent of the nation’s L.N.G. exports.

Much of that capacity was built after Katrina, and plans are in the works for a dozen more liquefied natural gas export terminals in the region — including at Port Fourchon, where Ida made landfall on Sunday. Environmental groups have criticized those plans, saying they contribute to the very climate crisis that poses a threat to those facilities.

Residents line up outside a gas station in southeast Louisiana on Monday, waiting to make purchases. Hurricane Ida will almost certainly exacerbate shipping and material shortages.
Residents line up outside a gas station in southeast Louisiana on Monday, waiting to make purchases. Hurricane Ida will almost certainly exacerbate shipping and material shortages.Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

In normal times, the devastation of a massive hurricane like Ida tends to be followed by an aggressive rebuilding effort, as carpenters, roofers and other skilled workers descend on affected communities to repair the damage.

These are not normal times.

With the global supply chain besieged by trouble — extreme shipping delays, persistent product shortages and soaring costs — construction teams are likely to struggle to secure needed goods. At the same time, the hurricane’s damage to critical industries in the Gulf Coast area and the urgent need to rebuild are expected to cascade through the country’s already strained shipping infrastructure.

“The supply was already terrible,” said Eric Byer, the president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, a trade association representing 400 companies that make and sell raw materials used in a vast array of industries, including construction and pharmaceuticals. “Now, it’s going to be worse.”

For months, a surge of trade from Asia to the United States has exhausted the supply of shipping containers, forcing buyers to pay 10 times the usual rate on popular routes like Shanghai to Los Angeles.

As dockworkers have contracted Covid or have landed in quarantine, loading and unloading at ports has been constrained. The pandemic has sidelined truck drivers, limiting the availability of vehicles that can carry products from ports to warehouses to customers.

Hurricane Ida will almost certainly make this situation worse, as available trucks are diverted en masse toward affected communities to deliver relief supplies. No one questions the merits of this course, but it will leave even fewer trucks available to carry goods everywhere else, intensifying already-profound shortages.

“The domestic trucking situation has been bad for some time, and the hurricane will add to that,” said Megan Gluth-Bohan, the chief executive of TRInternational, an importer and distributor of chemicals just outside Seattle. “You’re going to see more logjams at the ports.”

Her company relies on a supplier in Taiwan for hydrocarbon resins, selling them to American manufacturers that make paints, varnishes and other coatings. She brings in chemicals from Thailand that are included in industrial cleaning products and imports glycols, which are used in food products, makeup, and industrial coatings.

“These are the raw materials that make everything,” Ms. Gluth-Bohan said.

Ms. Gluth-Bohan was still assessing the impact of Ida on her industry, but it seemed obvious that the rebuilding effort would face challenges as the availability of necessary supplies becomes even tighter.

“It’s going to have a significant impact,” she said. “Companies that make coatings, paint, shingles or treated lumber — a lot of these companies are going to have to slow down.”

Part of the impact is a result of where the storm landed. The Gulf Coast is home to refineries and plants that make all manner of industrial chemicals — a fact brought home last winter, when an intense freeze in the region knocked factories out of commission, causing product shortages that still endure.

In Ida’s wake, the plastics industry was girding for another jump in prices that were already at record highs.

The Royale Group, which manufactures and distributes chemicals from its base near Wilmington, Del., buys only a small percentage of its supplies from plants on the Gulf of Mexico. But that is no comfort, said the company’s chief executive, John Logue, because shortages of a single ingredient can be enough to halt production of many items.

The auto industry has been severely constrained by a persistent shortage of computer chips. Similarly, Mr. Logue’s company, which relies heavily on suppliers in China and India, has for weeks been unable to complete an order for a pharmaceutical company because it is waiting for one raw material.

“Any hiccup in the supply chain right now just adds fuel to the disaster,” Mr. Logue said. “We are not manufacturing what we want to manufacture. We are manufacturing what we are able to manufacture.”

A man was apparently killed by an alligator on Monday in an area that flooded during Hurricane Ida.
A man was apparently killed by an alligator on Monday in an area that flooded during Hurricane Ida.Credit…Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A Louisiana man was missing and presumed dead after an alligator attacked him on Monday in an area that was flooded during Hurricane Ida, the authorities said.

A woman said that at about noon on Monday, her 71-year-old husband was attacked by an alligator while walking in knee-high floodwaters at their home in the city of Slidell, about 30 miles northeast of New Orleans on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Capt. Lance Vitter of the Sheriff’s Office said the man had gone to check on his belongings in a storage area below the house.

The woman, whose name was not released, told deputies that she was inside her home when she heard a commotion and splashing. When she went outside, she saw a large alligator attacking her husband, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“When she opened up the door, the alligator had him in the death roll,” Captain Vitter said on Tuesday.

After the attack, which resulted in the loss of one of the man’s arms, the woman pulled him out of the floodwaters and returned inside to gather first aid supplies, the Sheriff’s Office said.

When she realized the severity of his injuries, she got into a boat to seek help, about a mile away. Captain Vitter said 911 wasn’t working at the time and that she couldn’t call for help. When she returned, her husband was gone, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies’ efforts to find the man were unsuccessful, and the incident remains under investigation.

Captain Vitter said the couple’s home is surrounded by marsh and in an area that is well known to have alligators.

“It was not uncommon for people to see alligators seven feet or longer,” he said.

In a statement, Sheriff Randy Smith of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office warned residents to be “extra vigilant” while walking in flooded areas because the storm may have displaced wildlife, causing alligators and other animals to move closer into neighborhoods.

Louisiana and Florida have the largest alligator populations in the United States, with more than one million wild alligators in each state, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Alligators are most common in Louisiana’s coastal marshes but can also be found in ponds, lakes, canals, rivers, swamps and bayous.

At least five other deaths — three in Louisiana and two in Mississippi — have been attributed to the storm, officials said.

Troy Bonvillian looked at the damage done to his flooring company in Houma, La., on Monday.
Troy Bonvillian looked at the damage done to his flooring company in Houma, La., on Monday.Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

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 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.

Charity Navigator, GuideStar and other organizations provide information on nonprofit groups and aid agencies, and can direct you to reputable ones.

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 donations of money are 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 removal of trees on homes, tarping of roofs, 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 on a regular basis 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 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.

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