Hurricane Ida made landfall in south Louisiana on August 29, exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi. In 2005, Katrina flooded New Orleans, causing 1,800 fatalities and $125 billion in damages. After Katrina, the city invested $14.5 billion to improve its flood protection infrastructure.
Although New Orleans’ levees resisted Ida’s landfall, the storm still caused havoc. The power grid failed in Mississippi and Louisiana, leaving more than 1 million customers in Louisiana without electricity during a heatwave. Power outages lasted weeks in the hardest-hit areas.
The storm caused catastrophic wind gushes, floods and tornadoes in several U.S. northeastern states. On September 1, New York City registered the wettest single hour on record, at 3.15 inches (80 mm), prompting the authorities to declare its first-ever flash flood emergency. Dozens died across the United States.
On August 27, in preparation for Ida’s arrival, Stanley M. Dameron, commissioner of the Office of Financial Institutions of the State of Louisiana, authorized financial and non-depository organizations to temporarily close or relocate branch offices, as well as limit hours, reduce functions, or close certain days of the week.
In New Orleans, some supermarkets like Whole Foods accepted debit or credit purchases only and refused to provide cashbackA service whereby the customer pays electronically a higher amount to a retailer than the value of the purchase for goods and/or services and receives the difference in cash. It is also a reward system associated with credit card usage, whereby the consumer receives a percentage of the amount spent on the credit card. More to customers. Other retailers like Dollar General, restaurants, hardware stores, and pharmacies remained open but accepted cash payments only.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Louisiana had about 930,000 people needing food assistance. However, “layer on top of that, all those people that are normally food secure but have no power and no ability to shop and buy groceries and you’re talking a million-plus people in the state that need help,” said Natalie Jayroe, president and chief executive of the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Local bankers thought the recovery would depend significantly on restoring electricity and water services. “Having lived through this a few years ago, the restoration of infrastructure is key,” said Art Stevens, president of retail banking at Trustmark Bank in Jackson, Mississippi. “The roads have to be cleared and opened, the power has to come back on, the water and sewer has to work, really before full recovery can even start to take place.”
U.S. federal disaster preparedness advice at Ready.gov recommends citizens have a basic supplies kit including “cash or traveler’s checks.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also urged New Orleans residents to stock up on cash in preparation for Ida’s landfall.