Rebuilding after a hurricane is never fast or easy, and Ida is no exception

Rebuilding after a hurricane is never fast or easy, and Ida is no exception

Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms to hit the mainland United States, killed at least 13 people in Louisiana alone. That includes, according to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, five people found dead in senior apartments. When taking into account the flooding that impacted the East coast, Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, took the lives of at least 50 more folks. As of now in Louisiana, more than 500,000 homes still don’t have power. That sounds bad—and it is bad—but even more folks were without power when Ida actually hit a little over one week ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, customers in rural areas are in for a longer wait and more complex process for getting life back to normal than those in cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. 

In the bigger picture of the region, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it is investigating more than 300 reports of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard said it has been holding flyovers in the state to check into “multiple” oil spills in the southeastern part of Louisiana and, thankfully, some pollution response and clean-up has begun. Since the storm, close to 90% of offshore oil production for the area has been closed. But this isn’t the only supply chain issue to consider when it comes to rebuilding in the region.

On Monday, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’s working to ensure that people doing recovery work in the region have places to actually stay. Hotels in the area must give priority to health care workers, infrastructure repair workers, and first responders, for example, thanks to a proclamation he signed. The same proclamation also suspends a number of court deadlines until later in the month.

This makes sense, given that many roads are still unusable, debris and trash are strewn about, there’s still a curfew in New Orleans, and repairs may take even longer than expected. As reported by the Associated Press, for example, repairing the roof of your home or business may seem like a relatively quick means to getting safely back in your home—hire the workers, pay the workers, etc—but in the wake of Ida, the process may easily take until next year.

“A lot of the materials that you would need for any project,” Henry D’Esposito, who heads construction research for a real estate services company, told the Associated Press in an interview,  “and especially something this urgent — you’re not able to get on site for weeks or months.” He added to the outlet that delays in getting materials like steel, aluminum, and drywall are major issues. 

Gas supplies plummeted in the Gulf Coast—an issue for people when it comes to filling up their cars, yes, but also when it comes to their electric generators. That’s no small issue when we remember that power is largely out in some areas, cell phone service is sparse, and some folks don’t have running water. Thousands of poles and transformers went down, and while workers are coming from out of the area to help, none of this labor can be finished in the snap of one’s fingers. But for people stuck in the region’s heat—and in the aftermath of trauma—help can’t come fast enough. 

There’s also issue of both getting skilled workers to finish the job—no one wants someone without a specialized skillset working on their roof, for example—and being able to house, feed, and generally provide them with relatively safe environments. If workers are relatively limited for any of the above reasons—perhaps there are few hotel rooms available with running water, for example—workers can then raise their prices, based on the simple supply-and-demand model.

Makes sense for workers, but it’s also challenging for say, small business owners or homeowners who can’t compete with offers of more money. This can be a domino effect if, for example, the delays in getting your home or business repaired lead to you living in a hotel for longer or not being able to return to work. The longer some damages sit can make the issue grow progressively bigger—and more expensive and involved—as time continues.

And, of course, we’re still living through a global pandemic, which can put an additional burden on folks who may be living in close quarters with others, unable to quarantine after developing COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, or even people who are living with long-term health effects after surviving the virus. And as is always true in the aftermath of natural disasters, disabled folks, older people, and even pets can be particularly vulnerable, as access can (unfortunately) go out the window during and after a disaster. We also know that incarcerated folks are chronically left behind when it comes to natural disasters, and Ida was no exception.

Contribute now to support Hurricane Ida relief efforts.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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