People always try to pull us apart by proclaiming that we, as a people, are so divided. However after Katrina and now Ida, I have seen the best of people. When the chips are down, we see our common humanity and we lift each other up. We are, and always will be, better together.

I’ve spent much of the last month helping my neighbors as we dig through Hurricane Ida recovery. This can be a painful process for survivors — emotionally, physically, financially. However, this past week has filled my soul from the kindness of our true humanity when E Pluribus Unum was joined by our colleagues from the Emerson Collective here on the ground in Louisiana. E Pluribus Unum, NOLA Tree ProjectChicago CRED and World Central Kitchen worked together helping our neighbors rebuild.

Our team assisted homeowners in LaPlace, Louisiana — an area completely devastated by Hurricane Ida. The storm’s eye sat on this community for hours leaving homes with 7-8 feet of water and further structural damage. Homeowners welcomed our teams and worked hand-in-hand tearing out sheetrock, insulation, flooring, and more, while we helped salvage as many precious family memories as possible. While our hands were busy, our hearts were also filled by the hope and resilience of folks that have seemingly lost most every material item. Perspective is a powerful word and everyone working with us has a new understanding. So many times when we give of ourselves, we end up receiving more than we ever imagined.

Our region continues to face the daunting challenge of putting the pieces back together all while fighting a global pandemic. The stark reality is that with climate change posing an ever-increasing threat to our very livelihood, we must use this time to build back better and stronger.

There is no better example than the aftermath of Hurricane Ida to underscore the clear and immediate need for a landmark investment in rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in climate adaptations. It is clear that the time is now to take bold and aggressive action. The future of both our beloved South and our nation depends on it.

We need Washington to hear our pleas. Build back better.

If there’s one thing to be said about the people of our region, our resolve doesn’t falter. But just because our resolve is unmatched does not mean we don’t feel the fatigue from the constant need to remain resilient. Shoulder to shoulder, we will rebuild stronger together.

Mitch Landrieu

Founder & President, E Pluribus Unum


Investing in Infrastructure Worth Every Penny

Photo Credit: Mickey Welsh/USA Today Network

Federal levees a great return on infrastructure investment.” That’s one possible headline from Hurricane Ida, a major category 4 hurricane that made landfall as the most powerful hurricane to hit Louisiana since the 1850s.

Hurricane Ida’s economic impact on New Orleans and the rest of the country would have been worse if not for the nearly $15 billion investment in levees and flood protection made after Hurricane Katrina. The difference in damage estimates and economic loss is staggering. The global insurance firm, Swiss Re, estimates economic losses from Katrina would be $200 billion in today’s dollars. However, early Ida estimates, while still significant, are one-tenth of Katrina (in the $20-30 billion range), all because the flood protection and risk reduction systems did what they were designed to do.

Ida showed us plenty of other examples of the glaring need for federal investment in infrastructure, especially as we respond to climate change…

In a democracy, debates are necessary. But let’s not debate whether investing massive amounts in infrastructure is necessary. Look no farther than our early lessons from Hurricane Ida for why now is the time to go big and go fast.

Click here to read Mitch’s OpEd in full on our website.