Hurricane Ida had a terrible impact. Following the devastating storm, communities already burdened by pollution also experienced prolonged power outages, a major wharf was breached by a ship and nearly 350 oil spills and gas flares across the region allowing the release of chemicals.

Fast forward; It’s July in Louisiana, the throes of summer, and so far we’ve enjoyed the June 16 and July 4 holidays. But next month is a reminder of a not so pleasant day – August 29, 2021 – the day Hurricane Ida roared through the parishes of the river, upending thousands of lives, destroying millions of dollars worth of property. and ending life abruptly as many of us knew it. Fast forward and we’re still in recovery mode, and life is different and difficult for many of us. But with recovery comes resilience and here we are, once again, facing another active hurricane season. As storms continue to increase in strength and frequency, here are some tips to make sure you and your family are prepared for hurricanes.

  1. Determine your risk –Know what’s coming, how it may affect you, and how to handle it. Watch the news/weather to get the full picture of what’s to come.
  2. Identify resources –Find out what help is available to you through local, state and federal government. Once you have assessed your risk, detail any agency programs that may apply to you and your needs.
  3. Have a plan –Identify a safe place for your family outside of a storm surge evacuation zone. Put it in writing, so family members have the plan in hand. Include your pets in your plan. Assign individuals to all elderly and infirm family members. NO ONE LEFT BEHIND!
  4. Know your zone –Find out if you live in a storm surge evacuation zone. Pay close attention to local officials and emergency managers for evacuation plans and routes.
  5. Know your coverage –Check your insurance to make sure you have the coverage you might need for repairs. Be sure to take all important insurance papers with you in case of evacuation or possible flooding.
  6. Strengthen your home –Staying is not recommended, especially for the elderly and infirm, but if you plan to weather a storm, make sure your home is in good condition and meets local building code specifications for hurricanes. Have the right plywood, steel or aluminum panels to close windows and doors.
  7. Purchase the appropriate supplies in advance –Stock up on batteries (for flashlights and radios), water, non-perishable food, and any necessary medications/refills. Enough for at least two weeks. Fully charge all devices i.e. cell phones, tablets and laptops in the event of a power outage. If you use a generator, get enough gas for at least a week.
  8. Protect your family –Locate a safe room or the safest areas of your home for each hurricane hazard, for example, an indoor closet or a windowless bathroom. If you have to evacuate, have face masks for everyone, as you may end up in a shelter, which could put you at risk for COVID, etc.
  9. Take courses in first aid, CPR or disaster preparedness –Taking these courses can make all the difference in the next disaster.
  10. Download the FEMA Mobile AppIn case you missed anything above, it’s a good idea to have the most up-to-date information handy.

Finally, remember that it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Sharon Lavigne is an environmental justice activist in St. James Parish. For more information, visit