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As you are all keenly aware, Category 4 Hurricane Ida hit landfall Sunday, August 29th, and has devastated much of Louisiana. We remain under continued flood as well as tornado warnings while unable to fully comprehend the level of damage, injuries, and lives lost. Communication has been difficult with ongoing power outages in southeastern Louisiana but we will share updates with you as we are able to.

We appreciate your outpouring of concern through calls and emails of encouragement. Thankfully, our staff evacuated the city in time but we do not know the full impact on our homes, families, and the community of New Orleans as we’ve been advised to delay returning home. We are reaching out to our chapter members, especially those families hit hardest by last year’s epic hurricane season, and are hearing stories of flooding, rescues, and people trapped under debris from fallen buildings and houses.

We are all cognizant of the horrific irony of Hurricane Ida’s landfall on the 16th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Having survived the aftermath of Katrina and its prolonged and unforeseen long-term impacts, we are preparing ourselves for the long haul of recovery and rebuilding. One of the lessons learned from post-Katrina recovery was the rise of the predatory practices that target those most vulnerable. FFLIC will remain vigilant, advocating for coordinated public services to support families in need, and protect the rights of impacted youth.

We learned from the Office of Juvenile Justice on Sunday that children held in custody at Bridge City Correctional Facility for Youth (BCCY) were evacuated over the weekend to other facilities. At this time, we do not have more information. However, we remain diligent about securing additional information and advocating for the protection of the physical and mental health of our children, especially with the rise of COVID infections within youth prisons. As seen in national news coverage, the devastation of Hurricane Ida combined with rising coronavirus cases is a major public health emergency. We will continue to monitor and advocate for the safe release of incarcerated children dealing with the emotional trauma of this new disaster who are at very high risk of infection in an institutional environment that cannot adequately provide for their care and safety.

Last week, FFLIC was in the midst of preparations to celebrate our 20th Anniversary with a Virtual Gala Benefit on September 10, but due to these tragic circumstances, we must postpone this event in order to focus all our efforts on supporting our communities. If you are wondering how to get donations directly to families in need, FFLIC provides emergency funds to sustain member families as they attempt to recover and rebuild. OUR FAMILIES AND YOUTH NEED YOUR HELP— PLEASE DONATE NOW. Your compassionate and generous contribution will be used to provide families with emergency stipends while they await FEMA support as well as allow FFLIC to continue to outreach and advocate for those most directly impacted by this crisis.

We are thankful that the Biden Administration moved quickly to recognize this as a federal disaster so that families may register for FEMA support. We encourage everyone to come together to help each other survive and be safe over the next several days and weeks. FFLIC is here to help. Contact us via email at [email protected] or call us at (504) 708-8376. We will keep you updated.

Please help in any way that you can. FFLIC is preparing for a long journey ahead and we need your support. We wish for the continued safety and health of us all. Thank you for your solidarity and compassion.

In community,

Gina Womack
Co-Founder, Executive Director