Five days into the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, it was 94 degrees in New Orleans. But the high humidity made temperatures feel like 104 degrees in the shade. It’s not easy living in New Orleans after Hurricane Ida rocked Louisiana. Although it is hot, I thank God for sparing my life.
My wife and I rode out the storm in our home in the Lower Ninth Ward. We thank God that we have no injuries. Our biggest concern after the storm is electricity which we badly need to cope with this unbearable heat. Our neighbors in surrounding parishes were not as fortunate. They have quite a different story to tell. That’s because the residents of Grand Isle, Lafitte, LaPlace, and Houma endured the full force of Ida’s destructive winds and rain.
The people of New Orleans and Louisiana are resilient people and we are confident that God will give us the grace to rebuild our beloved city and our state.
No one expected Hurricane Ida to intensify so rapidly. Although Hurricane Ida dealt a horrible blow to Louisiana, we should not compare Hurricane Ida to Hurricane Katrina. Ida was by far more destructive than any storm that I have ever seen, and at age 69, I have seen quite a few storms. The storm intensified and changed course so fast there was little time to establish an evacuation plan. Therefore, residents in the path of Hurricane Ida only had 48-hours notice to evacuate. Whereas, with Hurricane Katrina, we had a week’s notice.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that there was not enough time to order a mandatory evacuation for New Orleans. Instead, she issued a voluntary evacuation. Residents with the resources to evacuate did so immediately. Everyone else prepared to hunker down for the storm.
Effectively evacuating a city the size of New Orleans is not as easy as it sounds. To do so requires a lot of planning. We overcome this problem In New Orleans with Contraflow. Contraflow is when state and local authorities authorize the use of some traffic lanes for travel in the opposite direction. For example, to the west of New Orleans city limits, Interstate 10 has two westbound and two eastbound lanes. When contraflow is in effect, all traffic will travel west, allowing more traffic to quickly move away from the path of the storm.
Hurricanes spin counterclockwise. After making landfall they usually travel on a northeasterly course. New Orleans residents must travel north or west to escape a hurricane. Interstate 10 runs east to west. It is the quickest and safest escape route for the people of New Orleans. However, it takes time to initiate contraflow. With Hurricane Ida, state and local authorities did not have sufficient time to coordinate safe traffic flow.
When evacuating for a storm, the one thing you don’t want to do is sit in a parking lot. Without contraflow, highways would become congested and traffic would come to a complete stop. Residents seeking safety would be like sitting ducks in the wind. They would be at the mercy of the approaching storm.
Why This Storm Was Unlike Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 150 mph. Ida was much smaller in size. Hurricane-force winds stretched only 45 miles from Ida’s center.
In the Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 storm. However, it was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall near Buras, Louisiana. Katrina’s maximum sustained winds were about 125 mph near the center. While Katrina was a larger storm, Ida was more powerful.
Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the flooding in New Orleans, however, the city did not flood until the following morning after the storm. A barge broke through the levee in New Orleans just four blocks from where I currently live. Water from the breach flowed through the city’s drainage causing widespread flooding.
Unlike Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida’s winds were far more destructive. When Ida entered the Gulf of Mexico the water was warmer in the deepest regions of the Gulf. This warmer water was literally fuel for the storm.
Louisiana’s Hardest Hit Areas in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
Grand Isle, Louisiana is located in Jefferson Parish. It is Louisiana’s last remaining inhabited barrier island, located at the southern tip of the state. The Island is largely known for its beaches and fishing. However, Grand Isle was devastated by Hurricane Ida’s winds, rain, and storm surge. Virtually every structure on the island sustained damage. The island was deemed uninhabitable by Jefferson Parish officials.
The levees were overtopped by rapidly rising water in Lafitte due to the storm surge caused by Hurricane Ida. Lafitte is located on Louisiana’s Bayou Barataria in Jefferson Parish. The town lies outside of the Jefferson Parish levee system. Up to 200 people were left stranded after a barge took out the swing bridge to the island.
I have friends and family residing in LaPlace. It breaks my heart to know they are in dire need of life’s essentials. Not only are they cut off from the rest of the world, but there are also flooded streets, downed power lines, and uprooted trees. All of these things are hindering recovery efforts. They do not have food, water, or functioning sewerage. Without gasoline for generators, they are unable to cool down in this sweltering heat. Also, the roofs of many houses have been destroyed, exposing them to the elements. LaPlace residents are surviving on hope.
Houma is the largest city in Terrebonne Parish. Known for Cajun food and music, charter boat fishing, swamps, and dance halls, Houma was hit hard by Hurricane Ida. Nevertheless, Houma’s residents remain hopeful as they clean up after the storm.
Pray for Louisiana Residents in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
The Bible reminds us that we should “pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
That is why I am asking you to join me in praying for my neighbors in Louisiana who were affected by Hurricane Ida. One of the ingredients in the recipe for faith is confidence. Faith is not just about believing, it is also about having confidence in God. “For this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).