On August 29, exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Hurricane Ida hit the shores of Louisiana. Since then it has been all hands on deck to assist with the recovery process, including help from Floridians.
When Hurricane Ida made landfall, it sustained winds of 150 mph, meaning it was on the verge of becoming a Category 5 storm. It caused storm surges up to 10 feet deep and was strong enough to reverse the flow of the Mississippi River for around three hours.
Over one million customers in Louisiana alone lost power, and another 100,000 in Mississippi experienced outages. Additional damage from tornadoes, wind and the storm itself has also placed an economic and humanitarian burden on the affected states.
Many Florida organizations have been pitching in to help with the recovery effort. One of these organizations is Feeding the Gulf Coast, which supports 24 counties in Mississippi, South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Feeding the Gulf Coast partnered with Feeding Florida and the Florida Division of Emergency Management to move over half a million water bottles and over 17,000 “Meals Ready to Eat” to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Once the food and water reached these states, it was distributed through smaller agencies such as churches, food pantries and other nonprofits.
“These amazing agencies do a lot of great work giving their time and their resources to help us reach people,” Michael Ledger, president of Feeding the Gulf Coast, told the Florida Political Review.
Feeding the Gulf Coast sent surveys out immediately following the storm to assess how many agencies were able to operate in the aftermath. Since then, a multitude of volunteers have been working tirelessly to unload and distribute the food and water.
Ledger went on to explain that power outages and road blockages are two major obstacles to resources such as food and water after a storm. “When you throw in a wrench like a hurricane, and a major power outage on top of it, that can be the push that unfortunately puts someone who’s getting by into a situation where they need support,” he said.
The movement of resources between states is not a unique phenomenon. Following Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma, Florida received assistance from other states, and now the favor is being returned.
In addition to food and water from Feeding the Gulf Coast, Louisiana has also received help in the form of law enforcement. The Florida Sheriffs Association Task Force deployed more than 75 officers to support the local forces.
This deployment was a result of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a constitutional provision that allows states and territories in the U.S. to share resources in times of distress. Once Louisiana filed the appropriate paperwork, Florida deputies were obligated to travel on a two-week deployment to assist with any law enforcement needs.
Under the EMAC agreement, deployed officers have the same jurisdictional authority that they would have in their local area. This means that local officers who need to take care of their own families and who may have lost valuable resources in the storm can be temporarily relieved of their duties.
“Any time there’s a natural disaster like this one, the deputies and officers in that area are affected greatly,” said Captain Jared Hill of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Hill is the coordinator for the Florida Sheriffs Association Task Force. He has a lot of experience deploying task forces through his time serving in the United States Special Forces and his subsequent service in law enforcement.
Some officers have already been able to return home thanks to power being returned to certain areas. Others are still in Louisiana, but they will be able to start returning this week.
“It’s good that the U.S. Constitution has this EMAC agreement so we can all legally help each other out,” said Hill.
Florida agencies such as Urban Search and Rescue Teams and the civil engineering team Red Horse have also been helping with relief efforts in the various affected states.
In times of natural disaster, it is essential for those with resources to assist with helping people who have had anything and everything taken from them by an uncontrollable force. Florida has sent many different resources in this time of need, and these will help the victims of Hurricane Ida get back on their feet.
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Featured Image: Deployed officers from the Florida Sheriffs Association Task Force. Unmodified photo provided by Captain Jared Hill’s office.