Locals Helping Locals: Hurricane Ida Recovery Ramps Up In Louisiana

Disaster Relief & Emergency Services

Endeavors staff members know what it’s like to live through a disaster. Now, they’re helping their fellow Louisianans recover from Hurricane Ida.

When we asked former Disaster Case Management Program Manager Alicia Toups why she has has dedicated her life to helping Louisianans impacted by natural disaster, she said: “No one—I don’t care who you are, what you’ve done before, where you come from, what language you speak—no one should have to live days without knowing if their loved ones are alive, while at the same time going without electricity, hot water, or a hot meal.” 

In Summer 2022, Endeavors’ Emergency Services team established offices in Gretna and Baton Rouge to provide free Disaster Case Management to low-income Hurricane Ida survivors. We are currently offering Disaster Case Management (DCM) services across five Louisiana counties—or parishes, as they’re called in the Pelican State. 

The Louisiana DCM program is not Endeavors’ first time helping hard-hit areas rebuild after a natural disaster. We responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma in 2017, Hurricane Florence in 2018, Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019, and the Mayfield Candle Factory Tornado in Kentucky in 2021. 

In our experience, many disaster survivors are simply unaware of the resources available to them. So our Endeavors Disaster Case Management (DCM) services connect Hurricane Ida survivors to vital services and funding that can help them recover. Endeavors has been visiting each of the five parishes within our purview—St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Iberville, Assumption, St. James, and Jefferson— to connect residents impacted by the storm and with recovery resources and services.

Experienced Disaster Case Managers Who Care

Endeavors’ Disaster Case Managers have made a name for themselves as compassionate members of the community dedicated to helping their neighbors rebuild and recover. It was important to us that every member of the Endeavors Louisiana team has a personal connection to Louisiana, and therefore a personal interest in seeing the people of their communities thrive. 

All of the Endeavors staffers working on the ground in Louisiana are Louisianans themselves. Take operational Program Coordinator Dekethia Thiboreaux, for example. Dekethia is a member of the original guard of Louisiana Disaster Case Management. When Katrina devastated the region in 2007, she and her family evacuated to Texas. She vividly remembers the frantic rush to leave, as well as the pain of leaving loved ones behind. 

“I had 10 minutes to get stuff together, get the kids together, leave,” she remembers. “My mom had to stay because she was a nurse. My dad had to stay because he worked for a company with people on offshore rigs, and he couldn’t leave until all of his people were safe. I went a week and a half without knowing if my parents were alive or dead.” 

When it was safe, Dekethia returned to her hometown to work in the state’s first DCM program, where she was trained by 9/11 Case Managers from New York. She and the other DCMs had to learn how to implement a recovery program designed terrorism survivors into an area stunned by a hurricane. Unlike the victims of the twin towers crash, the hurricane survivors didn’t have houses to go home to. 

Fifteen years later, Louisiana has become an expert in emergency preparedness, and while she’s witnessed first hand the unimaginable way that Louisiana proves its resilience again and again, she also sees the way that resilience can become dangerous when the outside world starts to think, They’re used to it. They know how to recover. 

“Yes, we have a recovery routine,” she says. “But that doesn’t stop the storm from being devastating.” After Katrina, numerous insurance companies dropped the region entirely, leaving thousands left to choose between policies they couldn’t afford, or risking the loss of their home and property to the next storm that would inevitably come their way.

Dedicated Advocates for Louisiana

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in August of 2021, and since then various areas of our nation have been struck by additional disasters such as Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and Ian in Florida. “We’re 15 months past the disaster, and people are still living in tents and cars, or with family members. I can show you areas where you wouldn’t know if a storm hit a year ago or yesterday—they remain untouched,” said Thiboreaux. 

In the aftermath, Endeavors seeks to support those who are most impacted by the storm:low-income residents, uninsured or underinsured, survivors with disabilities, workers who lost their jobs in the aftermath, etc. 

“We do a lot of work with residents for whom English is a second language,” Program Manager Alicia Toups shares. Before joining Endeavors, she worked in Public Health for the State, working in schools to prevent drug and alcohol among minors, and on the ground to assemble emergency shelters for residents with physical and mental disabilities. When she goes into the field to assist survivors of Hurricane Ida, she sees many families living in uninhabitable conditions, finding shelter in trailer parks where the floors and roofs of the dwellings have been rotted away by the rains and the floods. 

The lengthy recovery progress and the ease with which low-income survivors can fall between the cracks is exactly why Endeavors establishes programs after the initial rounds of government funding and disaster relief have been executed. Endeavors is here for the long-term recovery: rebuilding homes, addressing persistently unmet needs, and helping folks who might otherwise get left behind regain their footing and their future. 

We may not be able to prevent disasters from hitting our shores and our homes, but we can ensure that we work as hard as possible to help our neighbors recover after the storm. 

About Endeavors

Endeavors is a national service organization that has been assisting vulnerable populations since 1969. Endeavors offers an array of services and programs supporting children, families, Veterans and those struggling with mental illness, disabilities, disasters or emergencies. Endeavors serves people in crisis with personalized services. For more information, visit www.endeavors.org

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