Rheneisha’s Reflections: Hurricane Ida
The Cov Family Connects Post-Storm
Hurricane Ida swept through Louisiana last week, wreaking havoc on our region. One of the many challenges presented by the storm has been its effect not just on our youth, but on those responsible for their 24/7 emergency care: our team of dedicated staff.
In the midst of chaos and despair, and dealing with their own challenges and displacement due to Ida, our team has expanded their reach, touching young lives across state lines.
Many staff evacuated with their families – their homes deemed unsafe with the incoming 100+ mph winds and flooding. Others joined our young people aboard busses to Covenant House Texas in Houston. Many more stayed behind to continue providing services and guidance to our off-site youth who remained in their New Orleans apartments.
Ebonee, the manager of our Two Generations (Two Gen) Program for pregnant and parenting youth, lives in LaPlace, which faced a direct hit from Ida. The morning after the storm, she was inundated with messages from Covenant House residents. Our kids were worried about her. Ebonee says she was blessed by the distraction of texting her “babies” back – to let them know she was okay.
Shelita, another member of our Two Gen team, jumped into action from her evacuation hotel room in Georgia. She began reaching out to families to address their needs and check on their wellbeing. Quickly, Shelita found many families in need…
- Lily was having trouble breastfeeding her first child. Without the help of her post-birth coaches, Lily couldn’t pump. Shelita tried to coach her virtually, but she still wasn’t producing any milk. After a few phone calls, Shelita was able to secure funds and transportation for Lily to get the formula she needed for her baby.
- Rachel and Danny initially evacuated to Texas with their young child. After a few days, it became too expensive to remain in their hotel, so they returned to their dark apartment in New Orleans. Shelita offered the young family advice on resources for staying safely in the city, including a free parent/infant hotline, cooling centers, options for water/food, and more. Our team on the ground in New Orleans also scoured our campus to find working flashlights and other supplies to assist them upon their return.
- Camila told Shelita how scared she was as her apartment shook during the storm. Her son Luke had just been diagnosed with COVID-19, and Camila had been quarantining with him. She did her best to comfort Luke during Ida’s fury. The week ago, before Hurricane Ida was even a blip on anyone’s radar, Shelita had dropped off health supplies and formula to the quarantining mother and child. Now, the young family’s supplies – and patience – are waning.
Alongside all the struggle, there is hope… and so many moments of grace. Our team is providing gift cards and funds to families in need. Birthmark Doulas is sending milk to some families as well. FEMA assistance has started to come in for young people affected by the storm. Entergy is working hard to restore power more quickly than originally thought.
Above all else, the outpouring of support our youth and staff have shown one another has been a source of comfort during this traumatic time. Our Covenant House family – like the city itself – has overcome so much. Together, we we will get through this latest challenge as well.
Rheneisha Robertson is the Executive Director of Covenant House New Orleans.