MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday on the exact date Hurricane Katrina devastated a large part of the Gulf Coast 16 years ago.
Sandra Feist is a Minnesota state representative from New Brighton who lived in New Orleans in 2005. Two days before Katrina made landfall, Feist joined the line of cars leaving the New Orleans area. She was headed for Arkansas.
“I just remember sitting in the theater and watching this really dumb movie and wondering if my home had been destroyed,” Feist said. “It’s a very unsettling experience at the time.”
Feist couldn’t go back, and she came to Minnesota where she had family, and has been here since.
“My heart broke for the people whose entire support circle was in New Orleans and had been impacted by the hurricane,” Feist said. “We just need to remember that there are a lot of people that we’re not directly connected with that we need to help.”
Now, there are Minnesotans helping with the latest storm on the gulf. As of Sunday, the American Red Cross has deployed 16 volunteers from its Minnesota and Dakotas region and two emergency response vehicles stocked with food. A third is leaving Monday, according to Red Cross Regional Communications Director Carrie Carlson-Guest.
“We have a number of evacuation shelters that we’ve had open across the area, so that people have a safe place to go, so that our volunteers will be the comfort before, during and after the storm,” Carlson-Guest said.
Animals and pets are also being looked out for. Kallie Braun, the foster care coordinator at St. Cloud’s Tri-County Humane Society, says she expects they will take in displaced animals if needed.
“I know the South already struggles with pet overpopulation and their shelters are already crammed to the max,” Braun said. “We all just have to do what we can from as far away as we are.”
The Red Cross says it can use volunteers, and that doesn’t have to mean going to Louisiana. Volunteers can get trained and help locally for events like house fires. Donating blood or a monetary gift are other ways to assist.