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Ida Hammers Louisiana, Impact Felt In NWFL

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

Rain from Category-4 storm Ida is drenching Panhandle

As Hurricane Ida makes her way inland, preparations are underway along the Gulf Coast to assess damage and needs once the winds and water subside. The American Red Cross is among organizations gearing up.

“We plan a week out because we’ve got to move stuff around. And with the uncertainty of the track several days ago, we had planned on opening shelters,” said Jerry Kindle, Executive Director of the American Red Cross’ Northwest Florida chapter. But, when Ida adjusted, so did they.

“When [Ida] got past the land masses down there, got into the Gulf and the track got stabilized, then we quickly shifted and started sending folks to Mississippi and Alabama, Kindle said. “This is not going to be a passing storm – this is a big deal. This is going to be months of work. And so we’re already there, and we continuing to support that.”

The Pensacola-area chapter has sent dozens of volunteers and staffers to the west, along with a fleet of ERVs — emergency response vehicles that are used for mobile feeding, relief supply distribution, client casework and other activities in disaster areas.

“Some of those were staged here for us, and of course our region has 5 ERVs, and I’m sure that most of those will be going as well,” said Kindle. “Our region goes from here to Jacksonville. We have 35 counties in our region; our chapter is 10 counties. But again, we’ve been working this for over a week already, and we’re in for the long haul.”

The Pensacola contingent will be under the control of the Alabama and Mississippi Red Cross chapters, based in Mobile and Jackson, respectively. The standard tour of duty is two weeks, but Kindle says that’s flexible.

“Oftentimes we have a lot of people, good hearts and Red Crossers, and the first question they get asked when they get into an operation is do they want to extend? The minimum is two weeks and typically, a lot of those folks will sign up for three weeks to begin with, and then they’ll take shifts where a team will come in and relieve them and then they’ll come back and do three weeks when it’s a long-term operation like this.”

Responses to Hurricane Ida, in many instances, are based on lessons learned from previous storms — Ivan, Katrina, and Sally, among others. The Red Cross’ Jerry Kindle says basically, Ida is her own hurricane, comparing it to Katrina’s impact on Pensacola.

“This storm doesn’t have the surge that Katrina had, but [has] the wind and the heavy rain; and it’s going to be more centralized over Louisiana,” he said. “We don’t have a tidal surge but we have a more direct hit in those low-lying areas. We’re very concerned that it’s going to be a very big, long-term operation.”

More information for those wishing to make donations to hurricane relief efforts is at redcross.org.