Communities in Dulac and Grand Isle, Louisiana, have been devastated by Hurricane Ida. We, the organizers of PHIRE, are friends and colleagues of these people (our names and affiliations are listed below). Over the past two decades we have brought students to these communities each semester, teaching them about coasts, oceans, and people in these environments. Now we are raising funds to help them in this time of need. The money will be used to provide food and shelter directly to those suffering, and then to contribute to the recovery effort.
How much is needed? We have set a $100,000 target, but the extent of the need is impossible to quantify. The news and social media are full of heart-wrenching images of widespread destruction of homes and livelihoods. We are receiving photographs and texts daily from people we care deeply about, who are standing in front of the piles of sticks that were their homes.
What is needed? People have lost their houses, their businesses, and their belongings. Many of these people are already living in poverty, and now their posessions are scattered and destroyed. They need food, shelter, and resources to recover. We know the community leaders, and they know their communities. They will work with their councils of elected officials to determine what needs must be met first, and how to take care of the vulnerable. Funds will go to feed and house people in the short term, and longer term will help them mend, rebuild, or move.
Photo: House upside down in Dulac. Photo by Demetra Billiot, via Facebook.
Why are we doing this? The PHIRE organizers have a longstanding connection with these communities. We are educators who have brought students down to Louisiana year after year since 2004, teaching them about coastal communities and natural environments. We have developed deep and lasting friendships with the people who have welcomed us into their homes and their lives, and given generously of their time and expertise. Now we want to give back, and help them in their time of need.
A Dulac family returning to their ruined home after Ida. Photo by Shirell Parfait-Dardar.
Our group has experience in grass-roots funding for immediate needs in the wake of disaster. We successfully raised and distributed funds following Hurricane Katrina (2005) and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010), and so we have experience in making sure that donations are properly managed and promptly delivered to where they are needed. We have set up a dedicated bank account that will receive the GoFundMe donations, from which we will transfer funds to the accounts of the two target communities. The recipients are our trusted partners, and with decades of experience in taking care of their communities.
Funds raised through this site will go entirely and directly to the people who need them. They will be divided between the Mayor's Community Fund for the town of Grand Isle, administered by the Mayor and his staff; and the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, administered by the Tribal Chief and her Governing Body . In both cases, funds will be transferred to the secure and trusted accounts of these accredited organizations. The community leaders will apply the aid where it is needed via direct distribution to local people impacted by the disaster, to help supply basic needs in the immediate aftermath (such as food, water, fuel, materials to preserve and repair damaged homes, clothing, transportation, medical needs) and to help with their recovery longer term (through community plans that will help with rebuilding or relocation). Funds will be released to these organizations with the specification that they must be used to cover direct needs, and cannot be used for salaries or government costs. Your donation will go directly to alleviate some of the misery of people whose belongings, livelihoods, and homes have been damaged or destroyed.
We thank you for your generosity!
The PHIRE organizing committee:
- Katy Robinson Hall (Environmental Lawyer, & Professor of Marine Policy at Williams-Mystic Coastal and Ocean Studies Program)
- Rónadh Cox (Professor of Geosciences at Williams College)
- Audra DeLaney (Marketing Manager at Viv Higher Education)
- Bridget Hall (Graduate Student in Public Humanities at Brown University)
- Jaye Starr (Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America, Co-Editor)
- Jim Carlton (Williams-Mystic COSP Director Emeritus)
- Katie Clark (Assistant Dean of Integrated Learning and Leadership, & Director, Center for Innovation and Leadership at Swarthmore College)
- Mary O'Loughlin (Deputy Director at Williams-Mystic COSP)
- Lyndsey Pyrke-Fairchild (Legislative Liaison & Policy Analyst at Empire Fisheries)
- Rachel Rock-Blake (Global Insights and Analytics Manager at Produce Marketing Association)
The banner picture at the top of this page shows before and after images of destroyed homes in Dulac. Left-hand image is from Google Maps; right hand image is from NOAA's Hurricane Ida Imagery.
Close-up imagery of the devastation on Grand Isle can be seen in Live Storms Media's drone footage on YouTube
"Hope and endurance in a Louisiana town shattered b y Hurricane Ida" Washington Post video about the damage in Dulac.
This before-and-after comparison , using NOAA imagery from Grand Isle, shows the extent of devastation to people's homes