When Hurricane Ida knocked out the eight transmission lines carrying electricity into New Orleans in September, many people spent days in the dark.
Brenda Lomax-Brown, president of the city’s Hollygrove-Dixon Neighborhood Association, said median incomes of around $30,000 made it difficult for many in the area to evacuate or afford generators. Challenges included spoiled food, the inability to refrigerate medicine, and the difficulty for the elderly to find a place to stay cool. Cell phones died and cut off communications.
“People were desperate,” said Ms. Lomax-Brown. “Without your phone you can’t communicate with your loved ones who may be out of town, or with your neighbors to let them know how their house fared.”
New Orleans nonprofits are now stepping in to try to provide emergency power. Together New Orleans, a coalition of religious and civic groups, is raising money to add rooftop solar with batteries to 85 congregations and community centers. Their goal is for everyone in New Orleans to be a mile or less away from what they are calling “community lighthouses,” said Gregory Manning, pastor at Broadmoor Community Church.
“You get the ordinary benefits of solar, but if and when the grid goes out, you’ve got a real network that can respond,” said Together New Orleans organizer Broderick Bagert.
[Photo: Pastor Gregory Manning Broadmoor Community Church, New Orleans, LA. Credit Kathleen Flynn, Wall Street Journal]
Wary of Being Left in the Dark, Americans Produce Their Own Power, Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Hiller [pdf]