The devastation of this hurricane is only beginning to be felt, with reports of people in Louisiana also losing water in their homes. Jefferson Parish is reportedly losing 250,000 gallons of water per hour, according to WWL-TV, caused by fallen trees that have damaged the water system.
To make matters even worse, Louisiana has struggled recently with an enormous surge in covid-19 cases, pushing the local health system to the max. The state reported 3,428 new covid-19 cases on Friday alone, with roughly 84% of Louisiana’s ICU beds currently occupied. NOLA.com reported that a backup generator failed at Thibodaux Regional Health System in Lafourche Parish, forcing medical staff to manual pump air in and out of patients’ lungs while they transported them to a part of the hospital that still had power. State Rep. Jerome Zeringue described the scene as “Katrinaesque.” (Hospitals notoriously lost power during Katrina and generators failed, contributing to mass deaths.)
Watching Ida, it’s once again clear that various parts of the U.S. energy grid are simply too antiquated to stand up to the conditions the climate crisis has wrough. The most notorious example of a grid failing is Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. But hurricanes are far from the only climate disasters that threaten the power supply. This year alone, the Texas energy grid failed catastrophically after extreme cold hit the state, leaving hundreds dead across the state. (It’s almost failed twice again this summer.) And California’s grid has been stressed this summer amid wildfires, just as it has in other recent years. Declining water levels at the state’s reservoirs and hydropower dams have added further stress. All these disasters have shown why we need a modernized grid, one that at once connects broader swaths of the country and has built-in resilience measures to deal with increasingly, hot, fiery, stormy, and dry conditions. (Obviously it would also kick fossil fuels to the curb.) That’s a long-term project, though.
If you’re staring at the news from outside the region and wondering what you can do to help Ida survivors right now, we’ve created a guide on different ways that you can help victims of the hurricane right now.