Ida: Feds lead massive effort

Many federal agencies, led by FEMA, and DOD, hurried to coordinate and manage emergency response to Hurricane and later Tropical Storm Ida, which initially left over 1 million without power in Louisiana and the Gulf states and went on to cause increasing death and property damage as it crossed the Northeast.

As September started, federal agencies managed a massive emergency operation “at all levels of government,” offering resources and helping coordinate state, local, charity and private efforts to deal with the impacts and aftermath of Hurricane Ida. 

Ida made landfall Sunday, Aug. 29 in Louisiana with sustained winds of 150-plus m.p.h. and huge storm surges, before it plowed north. Damages across Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi are enormous, with more than a million residences initially without power. 

New Orleans escaped the worst wind and water damage, but it quickly became clear that on Grande Isle, La., where landfall occurred, almost all residences were a total loss. Ida continued as a tropical storm through Appalachia and then turned, doing its worst damage between Philadelphia and New York City, with over 50 fatalities as of FEND’s publication deadline. 

Main participants in Ida operations include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard, resources from the Department of Defense, including the U.S. Northern Command, and multiple additional federal, state and local agencies as well as numerous nongovernmental components such as the American Red Cross. 

“A tremendous coordination effort is taking place at all levels of government and utilizing assets from across the nation to conduct life-safety and rescue efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi,” FEMA stated. “Emergency and first responder teams began their operations early Monday morning. From Texas to Alabama, search and rescue teams from more than 15 states, FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard are conducting search and rescue operations across the impacted areas.”

Many of the same agencies just a week prior had been mobilized to engage “Henri,” the first hurricane to directly strike Rhode Island in decades—which already had caused billions of dollars in damage across parts of New England, as well as nearby New York and New Jersey.

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