DENVER (KDVR) — Volunteers from across the country are now assisting families in dire need of basic necessities after Hurricane Ida tore through parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
The first wave of volunteers with the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming left on Saturday from Denver International Airport for Baton Rouge. After a sleepless night in hotel rooms spread across the storm’s path, Colorado helpers are now extremely busy, helping families however they can.
“We know some of the biggest impacts are the ones we can’t see right now,” said Andrea Carlson with American Red Cross. “Those are some of the long-term pieces that are going to continue to affect and hurt people for years to come.”
Waking up in the thick of it, Carlson and her team found debris over roadways, downed signs and trees hanging on homes and powerlines. Almost everyone in the storm’s path hasn’t seen power or running water in over 48 hours.
It could be weeks before power is restored. Volunteers spent Tuesday loading trucks with meal kits and cleaning materials to deliver to families still in their homes.
‘They will get better and be stronger than they were before’
Since Sunday, the number of American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming volunteers working in Louisiana has doubled.
“That number will even continue to get larger over the next couple of days,” Carlson said. “Every single one of us is from somewhere else, coming into this community to help because it’s bigger than we are, and we can give back and be part of. There’s no greater feeling than that.”
Carlson is a Colorado native and has never experienced a hurricane before this weekend. However, the type of disaster doesn’t change how compassion is given.
While working in a supply warehouse, Carlson said the group is focused on “making sure we can provide people with kindness, support and being there for everyone.”
“They will get better and be stronger than they were before. We have seen that,” Carlson said. “They had disasters like this in the past. But if we can continue to do what we do as the Red Cross, we know when we leave, we’ve helped as much as we could when we were there.”
Evacuation orders have lifted but Red Cross shelters could see more people return in coming days, as many homes don’t have what families need to survive. Many Colorado volunteers haven’t purchased a ticket back home.
They could be deployed for up to two weeks. It all depends on how much help is needed.