She’s navigated by way of Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Harvey and different disasters, however Cajun Navy Relief (CNR) president Colleen Udell says that the impact of Hurricane Ida is “unprecedented.” 

CNR is a 501(c)3 group that has undergone coaching from each FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Founded in 2016, the group of volunteers has assisted in quite a few rescue operations over land and water. 


Udell spoke with Fox News on Sunday as Ida made landfall close to Port Fourchon, Louisiana. 

She mentioned the nonprofit was “all-hands-on-deck.” 

“We’ve activated anyone which is on mobile command post and we are pre-staging our boaters in areas that are outside of the storm area. One of the things that we have done to help prepare is as soon as we saw the possibility that a storm could form – even when it was with the National Hurricane Center being 20% – we start watching,” she defined. “And, with our plans and our experience from previous years, especially from 2020, we have a great system down as far as our planning process is concerned and we start having meetings early. We also use the off-season to help prepare.”

“We have boaters. We have a medical team. We actually have another team coming in. Impact Northwest is coming in from Seattle, Washington. They will be arriving [in] the area today and will be deploying with us as well,” Udell continued. 

A man passes by a section of roof that was blown off of a building in the French Quarter by Hurricane Ida winds, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans. 

A person passes by a bit of roof that was blown off of a constructing within the French Quarter by Hurricane Ida winds, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans. 
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

CNR has greater than 100 volunteers who’re “actively working the storm” proper now and a volunteer community of greater than 3,000 individuals who they’ll “tap into at any time.” 

“So, there are volunteers from all walks of life. We have crane operators. We have elevator engineers. We have everyday people. You pick a career, we have somebody [who] works in it. We have nurses that have been working [on] the COVID floors. We have individuals that do wildlife rescue. We even have a volunteer [who] is in the U.K. [and] has been helping us out.,” Udell mentioned. 

In order to coordinate emergency reduction efforts – particularly as energy and cellphone towers are rendered inactive – CNR and its volunteers use apps, together with Zello and Glympse.

“And then, if communications do happen to go out, we have a command post and we have specific instructions for our teams,” she added. “We trust our division leads and trust our judgment.”

Cajun Navy Relief President Colleen Udell

Cajun Navy Relief President Colleen Udell
(Credit: Colleen Udell)

In addition, the CNR group makes use of a diversified array of internet sites, have contacts in meteorology and stay in contact with Louisiana and GOHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) officers.

Nearly a Category 5 storm, Ida had most sustained winds at landfall estimated to be 150 mph. 

The National Hurricane Center reported earlier Sunday that the attention of Ida made a second landfall alongside the state’s southern coast simply southwest of Galliano, with most sustained winds estimated at 145 mph.

A NOAA National Ocean Service tide gauge in Shell Beach, Louisiana, had reported a water degree of 6.8 ft above imply excessive water and one other at Bay Waveland Yacht Club, Mississippi, reported a water degree of 5.6 ft.

“This is devastating. This is devastating for Louisiana. I mean, Hurricane Laura came into Lake Charles and then did so much damage as far as square mileage last year, wind and trees,” Udell instructed Fox News. “This is unprecedented.”


Speaking with reporters on Sunday, President Biden mentioned the storm was life-threatening with “immense” devastation and guaranteed that affected areas would obtain the full sources of the federal authorities.

According to Fox Weather’s Janice Dean, solely two hurricanes on report since 1851 have made landfall in Louisiana with sustained winds that sturdy: Last Island in 1856, and Hurricane Laura in 2020. Both of these hurricanes had been 150 mph at landfall.

Hurricane Ida, probably the most highly effective storms ever to hit the U.S., notably struck on the identical date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier.

“This is not the kind of storm that we normally get. This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards instructed The Associated Press on Sunday.

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Washington. Hurricane Ida blasted ashore Sunday as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S.

President Joe Biden speaks on the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Washington. Hurricane Ida blasted ashore Sunday as probably the most highly effective storms ever to hit the U.S.
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell mentioned in a Saturday information convention that she beneficial residents voluntarily evacuate. 

The metropolis was focusing particularly on a post-storm response because of the timing of the hurricane and Cantrell famous that its hospitals had been “at capacities as well.” 

There are greater than 2,400 COVID-19 sufferers in Louisiana hospitals, in keeping with the governor. 

However, he mentioned, evacuating the hospitals was not an choice.

“There aren’t hospitals with the capacity to take them,” Edwards mentioned. “And so making sure that they can maintain power and water, have access to all the things that they need and oxygen and other things is going to really consume a lot of our time and attention because we know that the lights could be out, power could be out for weeks.”

A man takes pictures of high waves along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain as Hurricane Ida nears, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans.

A person takes photos of excessive waves alongside the shore of Lake Pontchartrain as Hurricane Ida nears, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Udell mentioned that CNR has expertise working amidst the pandemic from final 12 months and is dedicated to defending the well being and security of volunteers, companions, and rescues: persevering with to take “all precautions to ensure their health.” 

“We do provide all of our volunteers with resources from the CDC and the WHO standards on reducing the spread,” she mentioned. 

Udell first obtained concerned with catastrophe response throughout Hurricane Harvey when a pal posted on Facebook in search of somebody who might learn a map. She responded.

“And, I just got into a travel channel and, next thing I know, I was guiding boaters through flooded streets in Beaumont, Texas, and Houston. It went against everything that I was taught about ‘do not drive into floodwaters,'” she recalled. “And, I just stuck around. I didn’t just show up. I showed up and stayed.” 

However, she notes, going right into a catastrophe zone is not for everybody. 

“There are sights, sounds, smells. The one thing that TV cannot show someone is the smell. You can see pictures of destruction, but until you’re actually standing there – it is very heart-wrenching. It is so devastating to see,” she instructed Fox News. “It does take a lot of emotional strength.”


CNR advises individuals to hunker down and keep as secure as doable. CNR additionally instructs these in must name 911 first earlier than going to its web site. 

The Category 4 storm is projected to proceed shifting northwest by way of Sunday night with a flip to the north by Monday morning.

“When we take a look at history – look at Hurricane Katrina, what it did. Hurricane Michael, when it came into the panhandle of Florida. Look at Hurricane Harvey. Look at Hurricane Laura. This is unprecedented for the state of Louisiana,” Udell mentioned. “It is going to be a mess.”

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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