• Nondiah Khalayi

Devastating Tropical Storms In The United States - Hurricane Ida

Updated: Nov 3


A man and a dog walk on a road full of flood water.
A man and a dog walk on a road full of flood water. (David Goldman / AP Photo)

Imagine waking up to a news headline such as “It’s exhausting to be a New Orleanian and a Louisianian at this point.” This statement by Victor Pizarro, a health advocate and resident of New Orleans, might not have made news headlines in the past weeks. Still, it speaks volumes of the devastating tropical storms in Louisiana and the Northeast region of the United States.


Hurricane Ida slammed into New Orleans on 29th August and has killed at least 95 people in the US. Hurricane Ida is a category four storm- with a speed of 150mph (230kph).

Hurricane Ida is one of the most powerful storms to hit Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Millions became homeless in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.


In this article, we explore some key issues on the state of the tropical storms in New Orleans and the Northeast region of the United States.


What are tropical storms?


Tropical storms are cyclones that have maximum winds of between 39 to 73 mph. A tropical storm with a sustained speed of 74mph is considered a hurricane.

In Hurricane Ida’s case, it had a sustained speed of 150mph.


Was there a warning of Hurricane Ida?


Yes, there were massive warnings of Hurricane Ida.

While there were continuous warnings of the hurricane, people were not fully prepared and were ‘fatigued’ from the many warnings.

The path of Hurricane Ida.
The path of Hurricane Ida. (Direct Relief)

The damage from Hurricane Ida


Life-threatening storm surge and winds brought by Hurricane Ida led to massive power outages. Power was cut to more than one million people because the transmission system was damaged.

The damage is beyond power cuts. Lives were lost, and the property was damaged.


At least 95 people have lost their lives as a result of tropical storms. Families have been displaced. Hospitals have been damaged.


Hurricane Ida exposed the dangerous living conditions of basement apartment residents in New York. Hurricane Ida caused the death of at least 13 people in New York City following the 3.15 inches of rainfall.

Basement apartments- mostly illegal conversions, affordable housing to undocumented immigrants and low-income New Yorkers were the ones that were affected the most.


While it would be needful to document the residents in case of future occurrences and/or evacuation to better housing conditions, this would be met by utmost difficulties because the apartments are illegally converted, and some of their residents are undocumented immigrants.


However, in the face of loss of lives and property damage, residents of basement apartments in New York City need help to find better housing. In a statement, the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “More severe kind of warning and a more severe set of actions that will be a jolt to people.”


A man walks past a ruptured structure in the French Quarter of New Orleans by Hurricane Ida.
A man walks past a ruptured structure in the French Quarter of New Orleans by Hurricane Ida. (AP)

Some picks on witnesses


The warnings of the tropical storms were taken both lightly and seriously. Some families that experienced and survived Hurricane Katrina were swift to move out of their homes.

To some, it was a mere warning that would not materialize. For example, Glen Pickell, a resident of Mullica Hill, New Jersey, said that when his worried son asked him about the tornado warnings, he responded by “we don't get tornadoes.”


But it was until it happened that Mr. Pickell realized the forecast was real:

"You look outside, and it's like everybody gets your butts in the basement. It didn't last that long. Maybe five minutes. But once it was over, it was crazy. You could see the damage it did."


What has been done?


Measures have been put in place to help prevent more loss of lives.

While there were forecasts of the hurricane and preparedness, the storm has caused more damage than anticipated. A natural disaster is almost always impossible to contain.


On 3rd September, President Joe Biden visited LaPlace and told residents, “I know you’re hurting. I know you’re hurting”, and promised that the government should stand with them.


President Joe Biden promised $500 in immediate payments to those affected by Hurricane Ida and swift aid to Louisiana that is still rebuilding after Hurricane Laura more than a year ago.

Several bodies, including FEMA and the American Red Cross, are helping families affected by the hurricane. Those displaced have been given emergency shelter and food.

Worthwhile to note, some long-term measures are being implemented to help curb the massive effects of extreme weather.


For example, the New York City Mayor said, “We can say now that extreme weather has become the norm. We need to respond to it differently.”

And part of responding differently is evacuating the residents of basement apartments to avoid any future deaths caused by extreme weather.


A flooded neighborhood after being hit by Hurricane Ida.
A flooded neighborhood after being hit by Hurricane Ida. (IJ)

How to help


Families affected by the tropical storms need our help. Some have lost loved ones, while others have lost their homes.


Properties have been damaged. People are psychologically disturbed. It is overwhelming. From wildfires to the deadly Delta Covid-19 strain and now the tropical storms.


You can help by donating food and money to those affected through trusted bodies.


> https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/hurricanes/

> https://www.unicefusa.org/mission/emergencies/hurricanes

> https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/hurricane-relief.html

> https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes (info on preparing for a hurricane)



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References


https://www.history.com/news/hurricane-katrina-facts-legacy


https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/catastrophic-tornado-rips-apart-homes-in-mullica-hill-nj/2945837/


https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/?text


https://www.nola.com/news/article_a5abc5bc-0cf0-11ec-9097-a72190939a4f.html


https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/08/29/us/hurricane-ida-live-updates-new-orleans-louisiana



Nondiah Khalayi is a Kenya-based Statistics and Programming student at Kenyatta University, a Health Science student at the University of the People, and also a Content Writer at IYOPS. Being an INFJ-T personality, she enjoys a calm life, coding, data analysis, reading, and writing multiple-niche research-based articles.


Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.