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Utah Red Cross volunteers head to Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ida

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Red Cross volunteer Kay Stevens carries her luggage in Murray on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, as she prepares to go to Louisiana to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Red Cross volunteer Matt Davidson walks next to her.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The first Red Cross volunteers from Utah have left for Baton Rouge after Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday, knocking out power to all of New Orleans and parts of Louisiana.

Video showed a home in Houma — which is just southwest of New Orleans — being destroyed by the storm.

Rayna Rogerson, from Sandy, has extensive experience heading into these types of scenes. She spoke about the scene she thinks she is heading into as she stopped at a gas station in Layfette.

“There is a lot of power out,” Rogerson said. “My understanding is that all of New Orleans proper is without power, and they will be for some time.”

Three Utahns from the Red Cross, including Rogerson, have been called out to help residents in Louisiana as Hurricane Ida, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning, continues to batter the Gulf Coast.

Rogerson has assisted with six other hurricane aftermaths.

“We see a lot of trees on top of houses, and sometimes, the wind will tear off roofs,” she said.

When asked if she gets scared heading into these types of situations, Rogerson said, “The unknown is always a little nerve-racking.”

The Sandy woman will be helping people check in at shelters. She said there are some guests that particularly make the job emotional.

“Children see evidence of what was their room or their house and they’re confused,” said Rogerson. “They get to the shelter and they don’t know what’s going on. That’s hard.”


Red Cross volunteer Shelley Smedley loads up a Red Cross van in Murray on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, before heading to Louisiana to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Five specially trained first responders from Utah have also deployed to the Gulf Coast to help with search and rescue efforts.

Kay Stevens said they want to provide emotional assurance as well as physical assistance.

“We’re here to bring hope, that’s what we’re here for, hope. First thing is food and water,” Stevens said.

Shelley Smedley wanted to take action. “I just thought, I can sit here on this nice comfortable couch and watch this and feel sad all I want, or I can go out for two or three weeks and actually do something,” she said.