U.S. Gulf Coast

The early morning of August 29, 2012 marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on the US Gulf Coast. IRD was among first responders in affected communities along Mississippi’s coast, with emergency supplies, shelter, clean water, and other relief. And as Hurricane Isaac approached the Gulf Coast, IRD was still on the Gulf Coast, still prepared to provide assistance. Our offices in Gulfport are staffed with experienced responders and emergency plans in place. Our volunteers were prepared to support clean-up efforts and to provide case management assistance as people began to clean up, repair, and rebuild.

Seven years earlier, Hurricane Katrina, a category-4 storm, moved out of the Atlantic Basin through the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall. By the time the storm had moved on, more than 1,500 people were missing and presumed dead, an estimated one million people had fled for their lives, and a dozen or more coastal cities and towns within a 90,000 square mile area were devastated. Damages were estimated at over $130 billion, making it the most costly natural disaster in the history of the country.

Within a few days of Katrina, IRD sent a team to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to assess how best to contribute to relief and recovery efforts. Within a month, IRD had distributed nine tractor-trailer loads of food, water, clothing and health supplies to Biloxi, Gulfport, and other coastal towns in Mississippi. The supplies included everything from meals and hygiene products to bicycles and stuffed animals.

In addition to responding to emergency needs, IRD is committed to implementing long-term development programs that target the vulnerable communities along the Gulf Coast. In November 2005, IRD established a Gulf Coast Social Services Center in Gulfport. to assist hurricane survivors as they navigate the maze of existing social services while providing assistance with legal services and financial planning. While IRD staffs the center, local caseworkers and professional volunteers play a critical role in facilitating community outreach and assistance for survivors. In September 2009, IRD also opened an office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to play a similar role in that community.

IRD US is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of the United States’ most vulnerable groups and providing the tools and resources needed to increase their self-sufficiency, and is affiliated with IRD.


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