(CBS4) – A week after Ida’s devastating blow, the damage in the Gulf Coast is extensive and hundreds of thousands remain without power. It’s a scene Brian Daley, task force leader with Colorado Task Force 1 saw firsthand.
“I don’t think the impact was as much as it would be, but it was very widespread, and there were a lot of areas that had poor access, a lot of areas that had literally no utilities, no infrastructure whatsoever,” Daley said.
Last Saturday, Daley, 44 other task force members, and two K-9s deployed to Louisiana in preparation for the storm. They originally set up in Metairie, a northwest suburb of New Orleans, but in the days that followed rendered aid in harder hit areas.
In the suburbs just south of New Orleans, the team went door to door this week, checking on people who remained. After that, they packed up and went to Grand Isle, one of the hardest hit areas along the coast.
“We did a lot of humanitarian aid, talking to people, giving them water, giving them some of those types of things,” Daley said.
“We didn’t really do a lot of heavy rescuing and things like that, but the efforts that we did looking at damage assessment really helps in the recovery component of these cities. When they need to meet their thresholds for part of federal aid, part of our assessments can help them do that so in the long run they recover faster.”
Several hours north in Baton Rouge, Loni Koller is helping the many people without power or a place to go.
“I’d say about 75% of Baton Rouge was without power, and now we’re probably at about 50%,” Koller said.
“Because those coastal areas, the power is not returning as quickly as they’d like, New Orleans and some of the other parishes down there, those people are then pushing up north looking for shelter.”READ MORE: Call Goes Out For More Red Cross Volunteers Amid Active Disaster Season
Koller works on the Red Cross’ disability integration team, which makes sure shelters are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The team also helps those with disability needs at the shelters.
The Highlands Ranch resident is one of 40 people currently deployed for the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming. In the past week, they’ve set up 23 shelters and sent three emergency response vehicles with food and supplies.
According to a spokesperson, about 2,200 people stayed overnight Saturday in the Red Cross and community shelters across the Gulf Coast. Some 5,500 meals and 2,000 relief items have also been provided so far, the organization estimates.
“I think recovery is going to be quite lengthy and we’ll be here as long as the clients need us and can’t return home,” Koller said.
Red Cross volunteers will head back home after their two-week assignments. After that, more volunteers will travel to the area and take their place.
“It takes a lot of heart and I’m just surrounded by amazing people,” said Koller.
While the Red Cross will stay in the area for some time, Colorado Task Force 1 was demobilized Sunday and began the trip home.
“It was very rewarding,” Daley said.