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Cleanup continues in wake of Hurricane Ida’s wide swath of damage

September 10, 2021

As power continues to come back in Louisiana, many residents are returning to survey severe flood damage from Hurricane Ida. Many other states are also reeling from deadly tornadoes and flooding unleashed by Ida’s remnants as the storm cut a wide swath from Louisiana up into the northeastern United States.

Ida killed more than 45 people, spawning at least 10 tornadoes and a deluge of nine inches of rain. At least 23 people died in New Jersey, and at least 13 people were killed in New York City. Parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania are also coping with many pockets of severe damage.

Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) has already worked in many areas of Louisiana as well as other states impacted by Ida, and has been in touch with contacts in those areas. Two investigative teams are being assembled to begin their work on Sept. 13. MDS continues to work with local and state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to send trained Early Response Teams to clean up, muck out and remove trees.

Localized response

MDS continues to see local volunteers as the backbone of Ida response, as volunteers can’t travel to severely damaged areas and a rise in COVID-19 cases is complicating travel as well. 

Some local MDS volunteers, through Church Contact Persons and VOAD partners, continue to send reports of cleanup and tree clearing efforts as they are still underway. Meanwhile countless MDS volunteers, in their traditional spirit of service, have been checking on their neighbors and lending a helping hand in their own communities.

MDS volunteers in Woodhull, New York are currently responding to damage from Tropical Storm Fred, which unleashed historic flooding there on Aug. 18. Though that area escaped the worst damage from Ida, MDS volunteers spent their Labor Day weekend helping Woodhull residents remove as much as six inches of mud from their homes.

“In a trail of damage this large, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and to wonder what you can do to help,” said MDS Executive Director Kevin King, “MDS is already making contact with communities where our hands and feet have been before. We are checking on the homes built by MDS volunteers. We are fielding reports that will eventually lead us to where we work best: meeting the biggest long-term recovery needs.”

In the meantime, King urged people to pray for the survivors of Hurricane Ida and for those coping with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fred as well. “You can do something,” he added. “You can check on your neighbors, on your fellow church members, on people in your circle who need to know that someone cares.”

MDS is accepting donations to support the needs of the volunteers who bring much hope in this trail of destruction.