LSU AgCenter Offers Home Restoration Resources Following Hurricane Ida

After devastating Hurricane Ida left countless homes and businesses in Southwest Louisiana in various states of disrepair, the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Home and Landscape Resource Center is serving those repairing their residences and facilities with valuable information/home restoration resources, according to this article from the University’s Agricultural Center.

The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, which has been formally operating under the LSU umbrella since 1971 and has only grown to operate out of 15 total research stations, extension offices in all 64 parishes, and 14 academic and research departments at LSU A&M. Funded by a partnership with federal, state, and local governments, grants, and private funds, the LSU AGCenter is one of the LSU System’s nine total campuses, and since late august’s Hurricane Ida left many in the area beginning to repair their residential and commercial structures on their own, the AgCenter is distributing valuable information and guidance at no cost to residents.

Citizens are being advised to visit the “Flood Recovery and Resilience” page that is located on the LSU AgCenter website for a curated selection of articles and publications on storm recovery and strategies to avoid similar damage in the future.

Claudette Reichel is a housing specialist for the LSU AgCenter who told the University’s press that repairing one’s home following a terrible weather event can be a massively daunting and stressful ordeal due to the financial and health-related costs. She told the press, “the expense, time, and work that go into repairing your home can have a silver lining with clean-up and restoration methods that reward you with a more resilient, healthy, energy-efficient and comfortable home. Even when money is tight, there are opportunities to make choices for a better home.”

One of the more valuable resources located on the LSU AgCenter’s Storm Clean-Up page is the guidance of a publication entitled “Storm Damage Cleanup,” which offers its readers the following tips to adhere when completing repairs following this past storm or preparing for the next one.

  • Before you enter any home that has flooded, you should ensure that all electrical and gas supply lines have been disconnected and carefully assess all potential dangers such as structural damages and snakes prior to entry.
  • For peace of mind, have a professional assess and inspect all service appliances and fixtures prior to their use.
  • A building that has been flood-damaged will require special attention in order to avoid or correct a “mold population explosion.” Please follow the 10-steps listed in the AgCenter’s fact sheet for safe and effective DIY mold removal.
  • It’s suggested that moldy, porous items such as carpeting and gypsum wallboard be removed as soon as possible. Additionally, you should clean and disinfect all surfaces that came into contact with floodwaters and allow those materials to dry thoroughly.
  • You should throw out any food preparation and food storage items made out of wood or plastic that came in contact with floodwater and sanitize all metal and ceramic items that came into contact as well.
  • Test all well water following a storm and refrain from drinking it until it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Be advised that any homes built prior to 1978 will likely have lead-based paint and materials containing asbestos, so proper precautions should be taken when conducting repairs, renovations, or “gutting the walls.”
  • All wet carpet should be removed instead of salvaged while Solid hardwood and ceramic floor tiling can often be restored depending on the types of damage that occurred. When in doubt, it’s best to replace the flooring.
  • When assessing a home that has come into contact with significant amounts of floodwater, you should determine which pieces of damaged furniture can be salvageable. For instance, wooden pieces of furniture can often be restored if they are properly cleaned and allowed to sufficiently dry while upholstered furniture is often found to be incredibly difficult to restore, especially if the item was fully submerged.

Outside of the flood-damage tips, the LSU AgCenter offers an in-depth page of frequently asked questions that cover a wide range of topics that can be pertinent to the resident repairing a recently-flooded home such as replacing insulation and drying home materials.

In addition to offering the public an array of tips and suggested guidance for getting home restoration and getting things back in working order following a damaging storm, precautions should be taken to “wet floodproof” the home to reduce future damage. The term refers to making improvements such as elevating appliances, making repairs with water-resistant materials, and taking precautions to prevent wicking. If these “wet floodproofing” strategies are in place by the time the next tropical depression, heavy thunderstorm, or hurricane comes to town, then there will be a much easier cleanup once the bad weather has passed, thanks to the resources provided by the LSU AgCenter.

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Power Starting to Return to Terrebonne and Lafourche

After undergoing detrimental, life-altering setbacks from Hurricane Ida, electricity is slowly beginning to return to the parishes of Terrebonne and Lafourche, according to Houma Today.  For Hurricane Ida recovery, resources, and assistance in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, please visit this link.

As of Wednesday, September 8, Houma Today reported that there were 26,404 Entergy customers in Terrebonne Parish without power and 42,137 people, or 95%, without electricity in Lafourche Parish.

Though the process of getting power back to the communities of Terrebonne and Lafourche has been slow ever since Hurricane Ida left the southeastern Louisiana parishes into darkness in late August, some Houma communities like the Oakshire neighborhood have had their power restored by SLECA with more to follow soon. SLECA, or the South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association, reported that their crews have been “putting in 16-hour days” to restore power to its 6,500 customers in Terrebonne and Lafourche.

Entergy is the largest utility company in the Houma-Thibodaux area, serving 71,720 customers in two parishes, and as of September 8th, there were 1,075 poles broken in Terrebonne, 879 downed wires and 1,270 damaged transformers, according to Entergy who estimates a date of 100% restoration to be at the end of September. Though, the parish aims to have power restored to critical areas well before that date. For instance, one of the top priorities identified by parish officials has been to restore power to Terrebonne General Medical Center.

Entergy Senior Communications Specialist Brandon Scardigli said of the restoration efforts, “while the estimated date of restoration is Sept. 29, we expect to begin powering critical facilities and other social infrastructure within the parish in advance of this date. We continue to clear roads and pick up poles and wire while simultaneously repairing feeder lines to critical customers. We expect to continue this focus while we expand to residential areas and restore power to the parish.”

With electricity slowly beginning to trickle back across the area, it’s possible that Terrebonne Parish’s boil advisorymight soon be lifted. According to officials, power has returned to the Schriever Water Plant, which will allow for water to once again be tested against “stringent standards” for the safety of the community.

Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove reported that the Terrebonne Parish Utilities Department has also been making strides to the 13,308 customers in Houma’s city limits. Dove said of his parish’s progress, “As of right now (September 9) we have 2,200 households with power. All the substations are completely repaired. As we hook up and energize an area, they will have to cut the power to your house if there’s damage because they don’t want to turn the electricity on and shock someone or burn the house down.”

Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson told Houma Today that significant portions of Thibodaux and Chackbayhave begun to see lights returning to the area. When interviewed about what the recent return to “some time of normalcy” meant for her family when her electricity returned earlier in the week, Thibodaux resident Danielle Stein said, “we are so grateful. We know how blessed we are to be some of the first in Lafourche Parish with power so my daughter and I are out volunteering in the community today, doing what we can to give back to those who are less fortunate.”

Outside of electrical updates to the Houma area, the Terrebonne Animal Shelter has reported that they are encountering and saving more and more stray animals every day. Residents are encouraged to contact the organization known as 911 Foster Pets in the event that they need temporary foster care to be provided for a pet. The shelter staff has also been handing out pet supplies at the various distribution sites throughout the parish for those in need. In addition to supplies being distributed by the shelter, FEMA has been conducting Disaster Survivor Assistanceoutreach and registration at Grand Caillou Middle School.

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Several Louisiana Schools Welcome Students Displaced from Hurricane Ida

Several Louisiana school systems, colleges, and universities are stepping up to help students that were affected by the detrimental impact of Hurricane Ida, according to several articles from the Acadiana Advocate.

On August 29th Hurricane Ida had made its way to the southern Louisiana Coast through Port Fourchon before it headed through northeast Louisiana leaving much destruction in its wake.  When this occurred most Louisiana public school systems and universities had just started the new school year earlier that month.

As a result, many schools were badly affected by the storm, and hundreds of students had evacuated across the state, but thanks to the generous spirit of several Louisiana Universities and school districts that weren’t as significantly impacted by Hurricane Ida, those displaced students will be welcomed into a new school or college with open arms.

For instance, on the Wednesday following the storm, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette had welcomed 61 student evacuees from the University of New Orleans. These students will be staying in on-campus housing and be able to utilize student facilities such as the University’s computer labs, science labs, food services, and gymnasiums. In addition to the UNO students, ULL’s campus also opened its doors, gyms, and facilities to student-athletes from McNeese so that they can continue to practice for the fall season.

These students enrolling at ULL are resident students at UNO, and they will continue to take their courses virtually while utilizing the atmosphere, resources, and facilities at UL Lafayette. The UL Lafayette Dean of Students Margarita Perez commented on the situation saying, “We were fortunate we did not see any impacts from Hurricane Ida. UL Lafayette will accommodate the visitors for “as long as it takes.”

In Northern Louisiana, the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) in Natchitoches reopened its admissions process mid-semester in order to support and accommodate families and students who were impacted by Hurricane Ida and had to evacuate South Louisiana. Students enrolling into LSMSA will receive supplies and tuition assistance from donations made to the LSMSA Foundation.

LSMSA’s executive director Dr. Steve Horton said of this opportunity, “we want to encourage families to apply regardless of any cost concerns. We are fortunate to have generous donors who know the value of a Louisiana School education and who prioritize helping families — most recently, those affected by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. We can’t rebuild houses, but we can offer students the best education possible, and we can offer their families the peace of mind in knowing their children have a safe and secure residence and a strong foundation for academic success.”

Other than colleges and universities, public school students displaced by Hurricane Ida were able to enroll in school districts across the state. For instance the Lafayette Parish School System organized an opportunity for displaced families to look into enrolling their child at one of the many schools in the district. The enrollment event was a week-long orchestration with LPSS staff members assessing students’ levels of education, importing grades from their previous district, and getting them acclimated to their new learning environment.

Students and families who arrived at the LPSS Vermillion Conference Center to see about the enrollment opportunity were assisted by members of the district’s displaced and homeless education services team. Members of this team were on staff to assist students in receiving uniforms and school supplies as well as locating any necessary documents for enrollment like birth certificates, social security information, and vaccination records. Specific support teams like this help to make the transition and assimilation process as seemless a possible, which further assists families in such tough times.

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Hurricane Ida Relief for Louisiana Citizens

Many Louisiana citizens and their families were unfavorably affected by the dangerous winds, storm surges, and torrential conditions of Hurricane Ida in August, but many Louisiana organizations and communities have banded together to create a plethora of resources for anyone affected by the storm to take advantage of, according to several news outlets, including KATC.

Hurricane Ida was the second major hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, and it stands as one of the most damaging hurricanes to ever strike Louisiana. Worth noting, Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon on August 29, 2021: the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In its path, it left destruction that devastated the bayou and river parishes of Louisiana. In true Louisiana form, citizens across the state in areas less affected by the storm jumped at the opportunity to provide valuable resources and start mutual aid funds and donation drives for those impacted.

FEMA Assistance

All homeowners and renters in the 25 Louisiana parishes hit by Hurricane Ida can now begin to apply for FEMA assistance. On the Wednesday following the storm, Governor John Bel Edwards announced, “everybody out there who is a Hurricane Ida survivor needs to apply to FEMA for individual assistance. It doesn’t happen automatically. To apply, go to disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

Operation Blue Roof

One of the more immediately helpful resources available to homeowners in select parishes is the ability to apply to have the Army Corps of Engineers cover their damaged roofs for free by using fiber-reinforced sheeting throughOperation Blue Roof. To sign up, go to blueroof.us or call 1-888-766-3258. The Army Corp had installed approximately 14,000 blue tarps in southwest Louisiana last year after Hurricane Laura.

Food Assistance

In Ida’s wake, many grocery stores were closed, damaged, or both, meaning that much of their food supply was lost, defrosted, or destroyed as a result. This led to many food banks thinking of unconventional ways to procure food for the communities they serve. When they were made aware of this, authorities at the parish, state, and federal level began siling and processing paperwork to expand the state’s food stamp program to those suffering from the storm who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for food stamps due to their income level being too high.

In light of Hurricane Ida,  DSNAP,  the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is expected to be activated soon. This version of the program not only expands SNAP benefits to more people but also waives some previously-held restrictions such as participants not being allowed to purchase “hot food products prepared for immediate consumption” with their benefits. The waiver being applied for will allow for “SNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy prepared foods available at any retailer that accepts EBT cards, usually grocery stores.”

It’s expected that DSNAP benefits are be approved and go into effect one to two weeks after Ida made landfall, so until then citizens should pre-register by visiting www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/cafe or by calling 225-342-6700 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Additionally, anyone wanting to receive DSNAP updates should text ‘LADSNAP’ to 898-211.

Outside of DNSAP benefits, Louisiana’s food banks have been hard at work coordinating with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for supplies. Additionally, Koret Patty, the executive director of the statewide association of food banks known as Feeding Louisiana, applied on the Tuesday following Ida’s impact to temporarily suspend the proof of income documentation required for those receiving commodities from a food bank.

In the week following the storm, food banks in the greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas were setting up food and water stations across their respective cities; the Red Cross had set up mobile kitchens in LaPlace, Morgan City, and Hammond; several food and supply stations were installed across Lafourche Parish in Thibodaux, Raceland, Lockport, and Golden Meadow; and the Louisiana Workforce Commission was supervising the feedings conducted at state shelters.

Places to Donate

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