The One-Two Punch of COVID and Hurricane IDA in Louisiana

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Most of us have seen the devastating impact of Hurricane IDA. With 150 mph winds, high flood waters, over one million homes without power and thousands of displaced families, the state of Louisiana has taken a toll that has been more than devastating. 

If that is not enough Louisiana has had quite a struggle with COVID. Hospitals throughout the state have been filled with COVID patients, including hundreds that are in intensive care requiring ventilators. They are experiencing a health crisis of huge proportions and now have another crisis of where to place their patients who are in intensive care.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Governor John Bel Edwards stated, “We don’t have any place to bring those patients. Not in state, not out of state.” As they are experiencing their 4th wave of this pandemic, their hospitals have been slammed with thousands of patients that have outnumbered any other of the 3 waves. In August they reached over 7,500 cases of COVID per day. This level of contagion has completely overwhelmed their healthcare capacities. 

Some of the hospitals, like the Ochsner Health system, the largest in the state, considered moving patients from the coastal hospitals but could not because the destination hospitals were full. Therefore, they have had no choice but to leave their patients in the path of the hurricane hoping that there would not be damage to their buildings and that their back-up generators would allow them to operate their essential equipment and facilities. 

Surrounding state healthcare systems are also overwhelmed with COVID patients. Hurricane IDA will also be impacting those medical facilities with damaging winds, power outages and flooding in the low-lying areas. There is more than just the impact of the hurricane which is in and of itself very traumatizing. There is also the rampant numbers of COVID patients that still need intensive care and support from qualified medical professionals.

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The people experiencing all of this have got to be overcome with loss, grief and angst. It is my hope that our government will stand by Louisiana with financial, logistical and practical help.  We also need reinforcements for the medical staff there. However, I recognize that nothing can replace the human connection that these folks need in order to survive.

This is dual trauma that will be filled with powerful devastation. We certainly need to rally around those who have experienced these traumas. I am encouraged to see teams of rescue workers taking food, supplies and medical equipment. There are also teams of technical professionals headed to Louisiana to help restore the power grid there.

There will be heroic stories of compassion, rescues and crisis management that will help those that are affected to have the help and hope that they need. This is a time to pray, provide financial resources, send care packages and support those who are providing medical and other forms of care to individuals and families who are in great need. The dual trauma will need an equally strong system of support in order for restoration to occur. Let it be so!

Gerry Vassar


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