Hurricane Laura & The Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
Written by Zawareen Zakaria
Early Thursday morning, on August 26th, Hurricane Laura touched down on the border of southwestern Louisiana and left behind in its path sixteen fatalities and massive destruction as it moved along. Aerial photography highlights entire neighborhoods submerged in water and ruined facilities caused by Hurricane Laura throughout Louisiana. CNN, NASA, and NOAA satellites show images of the extensive damage that the Lake Charles Regional Airport withstood, homes on either side of Gauthier Road littered with debris consisting of scattered roofs and other large portions of buildings and homes, and large swathes of Louisiana without power. Many other areas were affected primarily by the extensive flooding, with floodwater still present in parts of Louisiana such as the Louisiana Highway 27 and major chunks of beaches completely erased. As Hurricane Laura moves further inland, we see more clearly the damage wrought in Texas and Arkansas as well – ranging from damaged buildings, felled trees breaking down homes, and about 240,000 customers without power.
As we remember the man-made disaster that was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans 15 years ago to this date, the wake of Hurricane Laura reminds us of how important immediate disaster relief services will be for underprivileged and underserved communities, particularly in the middle of the current pandemic. While the hurricane just narrowly missed New Orleans as it moves further inland towards Ohio, the combination of hurricane-related relief needed as well as the nationwide need to protect communities from the coronavirus is something that must be considered when looking at to how disaster relief services will operate. The Black community in New Orleans was devastated the most after Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction of primarily Black-neighborhood has been incredibly slow compared to more white, tourist-centered areas in the city. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated racial disparities, and studies by The Data Center have shown how, despite making up only 60% of the New Orleans population, Black New Orleanians make up 77% of the COVID-related deaths. While it is difficult to ascertain the true extent of the destruction because of how inaccessible many areas still are, presently, elderly residents and hospital patients both young and old have been heavily impacted by Hurricane Laura – hospital wings have been completely destroyed, patients were evacuated across state lines, and equipment, conditioning units, and natal care have been compromised by lack of sterilization and high levels of condensation and humidity.
ICNA Relief’s Disaster Teams, Alhamdulillah, have been dispatched from multiple states in order to assist in and provide Hurricane Laura relief efforts, bringing with them coveted supplies and aid to Louisiana community members who are currently without electricity, food and running water. Their efforts were met with resounding gratitude, with one community member expressing how the sight of the ICNA Relief truck “brought tears to [her] eyes,” continuing then to say that “I have never been prouder to be a Muslim in the US. Thank you for all the relief efforts you are giving to our community after this disaster.”
The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said
“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter” (Muslim).