Bringing winds of up to 150 miles per hour, Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 storm. The storm swept ashore Sunday near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, located about 100 miles south of New Orleans. Hundreds of thousands were experiencing power outages as a result of the storm.
Portions of the state are still recovering from Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane that swept through one year ago and brought major destruction to the southwest corner of the state, including Lake Charles. Just six weeks later, Hurricane Delta, a Category 2 storm, swept through the area again. Hurricane Ida’s arrival also marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The National Weather Service estimated Ida could bring eight to 16 inches of rain, but coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama could be deluged with up to 20 inches. Low-lying portions of New Orleans were under mandatory evacuations as of Friday, with other areas of the city recommending voluntary evacuation for residents.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for our state,” Gov. Jon Bel Edwards said Thursday, referring to the storm’s expected landfall occurring as the state endures its fourth surge of Covid-19.
Hurricanes and similar storms can bring with them a host of health concerns for those affected. Covid-19 complicates evacuation efforts in congregant shelters, and health systems already strained by the pandemic may experience another surge of patients needing care from the storm’s impacts. High burdens of chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease, can also complicate evacuation efforts. If a person managing a chronic disease is suddenly cut off from reliable prescription medications or medical care, they may require emergency care.
Power and water outages can also impede local health providers, as was the case for Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, the area’s largest medical facility, which was forced to evacuate patients – including 19 babies – to other sites during Hurricane Laura’s aftermath. In addition to acute trauma injuries, other storm-induced hazards can have deadly results. More than half of the deaths stemming from Hurricane Laura occurred as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generator use.
A storm’s after-effects also present health concerns, ranging from water-borne illness to the risk of tetanus from clean-up and recovery efforts.
Direct Relief Response
The organization has a long history of responding to hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast, including Hurricane Katrina. Medical aid is already in the region, and the organization has prepositioned 17 Hurricane Preparedness Packs with partner facilities in areas expected to be impacted by the storm. The caches include medications and medical supplies commonly requested after disasters, including prescription medications for diabetes and hypertension.
Direct Relief staff members have also been in communication with Primary Care Associations in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to coordinate any needed emergency response efforts. As of Sunday, more than 200 health care partners throughout expected impact areas had been notified about the availability of emergency support from Direct Relief.
Since 2008, Direct Relief has provided more than $65 million in medical aid to more than 125 health providers in the state of Louisiana, as part of emergency response and ongoing support.