Church making early assessment of Hurricane Ida’s wrath; missionaries safe

Missionaries serving in regions battered by Hurricane Ida were reported safe Monday, Aug. 30, even as local priesthood and Relief Societies were gathering early assessments of the storm’s impact on Latter-day Saints and Church properties.

“All missionaries are safe,” reported Julia Fellows, North America Southeast Area Communication Director. “They were moved to higher ground ahead of the storm.”

Meanwhile, damage assessments for Church- and member-owned properties were underway Monday in Ida-affected areas of Louisiana.

Hurricane Ida crashed ashore Sunday, Aug. 29, as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States, knocking out power to all of New Orleans, blowing roofs off buildings and reversing the flow of the Mississippi River as it rushed from the Louisiana coast into one of the nation’s most important industrial corridors, according to the Associated Press.

The hurricane was blamed for at least one death after a person was found dead following a report of a fallen tree on a home in a suburb of Baton Rouge.

The power outage in New Orleans heightened the city’s vulnerability to flooding and left hundreds of thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration in sweltering summer heat.

Ida — a Category 4 storm — hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, coming ashore about 45 miles west of where Category 3 Katrina first struck land, the Associated Press reported.

Rescue personnel help residents of the Spring Meadow subdivision out of their flooded homes on a boat after Hurricane Ida moved through Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in LaPlace, La. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Rescue personnel help residents of the Spring Meadow subdivision out of their flooded homes on a boat after Hurricane Ida moved through Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in LaPlace, La. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Credit: Steve Helber, Associated Press

Ida’s 150-mph winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland U.S. It dropped hours later to a Category 1 storm with maximum winds of 95 mph as it crawled inland, its eye about 45 miles northwest of New Orleans.

Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a few thunderstorms to a massive hurricane in just three days left no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans’ 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents remaining in the city on Sunday to “hunker down,” according to the Associated Press.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned his state to brace for potentially weeks of recovery.

“Many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” the governor told a news conference.

For Latter-day Saints and their neighbors living across the Southeast United States, Hurricane Ida was an unwanted reminder of both Katrina and last year’s devastating hurricane season — the Atlantic region’s most active hurricane season in history.

Hurricanes Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta are counted among the 2020 storms.

Strength was found during the disasters as members stepped up to help others. About 75% of the members living along the U.S. Gulf Coast had opportunities to both help and receive help within a 90-day period.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.