Williamson's Note: 365 Days of Ida
August 29. A date in Louisiana’s history that holds so much devastation and heartache for its people.
A year ago, Hurricane Ida moved out, and donors and volunteers jumped in alongside United Way of Southeast Louisiana to aid vulnerable households with immediate relief.
United Way spent months in immediate response mode as families across the region needed assistance kick-starting their lives in the wake of the storm. And while we’ve switched to long-term recovery, the truth is, countless families are still searching for relief as they struggle to pull through.
I want to assure you United Way’s commitment to the region’s long-term recovery is as strong as it’s ever been, and…we are endlessly grateful to the partners, donors, volunteers, and staff for helping us rebuild and reimagine a stronger, more equitable Southeast Louisiana for us all.
Hurricane Ida: Immediate Response
Within a week after landfall, United Way of Southeast Louisiana was on the ground supporting our seven-parish service area and sister United Ways. We worked alongside community members and partners to provide meals, essential supplies, gift cards, and free civil legal aid to vulnerable households in desperate need of relief.
Hurricane Ida: Our Stories
Emma: Filling Unmet Needs for Vulnerable Families Through Collaboration
When Hurricane Ida destroyed a Northshore woman’s makeshift wheelchair ramp, she couldn't enter and exit her home.
Emma* has severe mobility issues and health problems, and lacked the resources to rebuild the ramp. In the sea of hurricane recovery needs, she could have easily been forgotten.
Ameah’s New Wheelchair
After Hurricane Ida damaged Warren’s home, he was in search of the items his 5-year-old daughter, Ameah, needed, like specialized formula for her feeding tube, medicine to control seizures, and diapers. United Way SELA connected him to our partners at LCMC to help with her nutritional and medical needs while working behind the scenes to make life a little easier for Ameah and her devoted dad.
Kathy: Reflections from Jean Lafitte Resident
The small community of Jean Lafitte was one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Ida. Kathy Powajbo, a volunteer leader at a supply distribution center supported by United Way and operated by St. Anthony Catholic Church in Lafitte, is one of many inspiring residents we worked with while supporting local relief efforts.
Making Homes Whole Again
Brothers Jack* and Jeff* shared their family home in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, their entire lives. After their parents died, Jack stayed in the home to assist Jeff, who has a disability.
Hurricane Ida sent a large tree through their roof and into Jeff’s bedroom, destroying a significant portion of the home. With funding support from United Way SELA, Fuller Center Disasters ReBuilders (FCDR) helped the brothers put their home back together.
As families continued to return home and begin to rebuild, needs shifted. We've committed $1 million to support equitable long-term recovery in the seven parishes we serve through long-term recovery groups - charged with identifying local disparities and providing unmet needs - and we will continue to provide aid to St. John United Way and United Way for South Louisiana in the months and years ahead. We developed an aggressive public policy agenda for Louisiana to secure federal recovery funds and deployed our financial capability services to help families prepare for the next disaster.
Thanks to your support, United Way is always here for our communities - before, during, and after disasters.
Families are still facing long-term challenges in the wake of Ida, including housing instability, unemployment, and mental health, among many others. It will take all of, United, to achieve an equitable recovery throughout Southeast Louisiana.
Some of the projects we continue to work on thanks to our generous donors:
Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders and UWSELA
Together, we recruited and mobilized volunteers locally and nationally to repair the homes of 10 low-income homeowners in the three parishes, including St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes.
St. Paul Benevolent Association
UWSELA, Bishop Wilfret Johnson, and HandsOn New Orleans are working in partnership to rebuild and restore this community hub for Plaquemines Parish. Residents will benefit greatly from having a space of their own to commune, plan, and respond to future emergencies in a way that centers on community resilience and sustainability.
Long-Term Recovery Tables
Throughout the seven parishes we serve, we continue to work in concert with partners to support long-term recovery groups (LTRG), including key nonprofits, faith-based, business, and government partners. Each parish's group reflects the unique nature of its communities while maintaining a shared goal: Identify local disparities and gaps in services and provide unmet needs. If you or someone you know needs help with long-term recovery, the LTRGs are here to help.
AAA Motor Club
Amerisource Bergen Foundation
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Being Human Foundation
Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation
Deloitte & Touche, LLP
DiPietro Family Foundation
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
First Horizon Bank
Hospital Corporation of America
Humana Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana
Joe W. & Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation
Louisiana Association of United Ways
Milton H. Latter Education & Charitable Fnd
Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund
New Orleans Saints
Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery
Quinn Emanuel Partners
Thigpen Hill Family Fund
United Way of Long Island
United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County