EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of Louisiana residents are still struggling to get by after their homes and communities were devastated by Hurricane Ida.
The deadly category 4 storm caused widespread flooding and damage and left more than a million homes and businesses without power.
To aid in the ongoing recovery, the American Red Cross sent more than 650 volunteers from around the country down to Louisiana, including Joe Apicelli.
Apicelli, who volunteers with the Connecticut-Rhode Island chapter of the Red Cross, told 12 News he’s on one of 10 emergency response vehicles distributing meals in some of the hardest-hit areas.
“We’ll drive in and out of the neighborhoods. I’m very loud on my airhorn,” Apicelli said.
“We provide them socially some comfort, a little bit of psychological first aid,” he added, saying it’s about more than just handing out meals. “When they see a little hand — an open hand, someone reaching out to them — that just helps their morale.”
The roads have been reopened, according to Apicelli, but there’s still destruction everywhere, with homes being completely flattened in many communities.
“There’s piles of debris everywhere. There’s light poles, there’s telephone poles, there’s stop signs missing,” he said.
Additionally, Apicelli said the lines to gas up can stretch 150 vehicles long.
“It’s a struggle,” he added. “It’s a struggle for most people just to get basic ice.”
He also said power in some areas may not be restored until after Sept. 27.
On Wednesday, Sept. 8, WPRI 12 will join Nexstar stations nationwide in raising money to support the Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts.