Sunday brought rain to Grand Isle, but the IRR teams where able to finish tarping all but one of the houses they had planned for the day. The team also continued to help at the distribution center, another group helped clean out a church, and a few of the team were interviewed live on the Weather Channel.
The team headed back to Lincoln early this morning, here is a summary of what they were able to accomplish:
- 46 roofs patched
- $100,0000 worth of volunteer hours
- 4000 hours worked
Joseph Lee, the team photographer and public information officer, shared the story of meeting a local resident on Friday:
"This afternoon I had the pleasure of taking a tour around Grand Isle with a local woman named Leoda. She has lived there her entire life along with five of her eight siblings. Grand Isle is a town with a lot of history and Leoda knows all of it. On our tour she pointed out several houses which were over 100 years old and still standing through years of hurricanes. This small community has stayed true to their roots through the changes and years. They are truly a resilient, kind and hospitable people."
On Friday, the IRR teams alternated between tarping more roofs and working in the multi-agency distribution center to hand out food, tarps and tools. The teams were able to tarp an additional eight houses. A couple of team members also helped caterers contracted to feed all the responders in the area. And thanks to the local fire department, the students were able to enjoy hots showers in the evening.
Today, they will continue to serve the community, but plan to stop early for some worship and study time.
Union College IRR students spent a third day fastening tarps to roofs in order to keep out the elements. As of today, the IRR team has:
- Logged over 2000 volunteer man hours, the monetary value of which would be about $40,000
- Tarped 13 houses, an average of more than 4 each day
- Removed personal belongings from homes to prevent damage
- Transported debris from around homes to the street for FEMA teams to remove
- Helped set up a point of distribution
Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday, August 29th with 150 mile winds. The hurricane impacted parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and the Gulf Coast areas. The storm left downed trees and power lines and millions of people without electricity. In Louisiana alone, more than 1 million customers were without power Monday night. As of today, 26 people have died as a result of the storm in Louisiana alone.
Grand Isle Louisiana was declared “uninhabitable” on the 29th. The mayor of Grand Isle, which had 100% of its buildings damaged, requested Union College International Rescue and Relief (IRR) to send a disaster response team down to Grand Isle, Louisiana, to respond to community needs.
On Monday, September 6, three days after the request, IRR traveled to Grand Isle and began to assist the local fire and police with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. If you would like to support the IRR volunteers, or for more information, visit http://ucollege.edu/hurricane-ida
Sources: CBS news, NPR
The IRR team spent most of Tuesday attaching tarps to the roofs of damaged homes in Grand Isle. More rain is in the forecast for later in the week and the tarps help protect houses and even allow residents to remain in their homes while they await roof repair.
Because of the limited facilities in the area, the team is sleeping in tents near the local fire station (see photo below).
The Union College IRR team arrived safely in Grand Isle, Louisiana, last night after full day of traveling and set up camp at a local fire station.
A team of Union College International Rescue and Relief (IRR) students and staff will depart for south Louisiana tomorrow to help with clean-up efforts after Hurricane Ida devastated the Gulf Coast a week ago.
The city of Grand Isle requested the team of students trained in emergency response at the suggestion of Gideon Rescue, a disaster response agency run by Union College graduates already working in the area.
The team, which will consist of 20 upperclass IRR students and some additional faculty, will spend a week in the severely damaged town on the Louisiana coast helping residents clear debris, cut up downed trees and recover from the damage caused by hurricane-force winds and heavy storm surge.
The group will take precautions to protect against COVID-19 spread. According to Andrew Saunders, the IRR faculty member coordinating the trip, students already undergo extensive safety training for working in emergency situations and will use the appropriate protective equipment and practices to protect themselves throughout the trip.
Union’s International Rescue and Relief Program is a unique bachelor’s degree designed to prepare students for careers in public safety, emergency management, and community development. In addition to earning an emergency medical technician and several FEMA certifications, students spend five weeks in Colorado training in wilderness survival and rescue, and a whole semester in a developing nation studying global medicine and running health clinics in underserved areas.
The IRR program regularly responds to disasters in the United States and around the world—including the 2020 derecho storm in Eastern Iowa, 2019 Nebraska flooding, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Typhoon Adai in Malawi, and many more. If you’d like to support their disaster relief efforts, please use the giving form below.
We'll post more information here as it becomes available.