Stories from the Field: Responding to the Louisiana DisasterB.C. Dodge & R. Mordant Mahon talk to Islamic Relief USA’s Disaster Response Team Manager Hani Hamwi in this episode of “What a Relief!” — IRUSA’s official podcast.

This week B.C. & Mordant welcome Islamic Relief USA’s Disaster Response Team Manager Hani Hamwi to talk about the Louisiana flood response. Partnering his team with the American Red Cross, he has been able to provide relief services to countless families in the aftermath of devastating disasters such as floods, earthquakes and more.

Also difficult to count are the number of Red Bulls he consumes on a deployment. “Oh, I can’t even count ‘em,” he says. “It’s nice to have the extra support of some wings.” Logging well over 10 hour days for weeks at a time certainly requires an extra push.

In this episode, Hani shares his experience being deployed to Louisiana to respond to the worst flooding the region had seen in a very long time. “Residents described something they had never seen before, and neither had their parents or their grandparents,” he says.

He takes us inside a disaster response mission, from the unforgettable sights of washed away homes to the stories of livelihoods vanishing overnight. Disaster workers act quick — Islamic Relief USA arrives within a 72 hours after a disaster strikes. From there, disaster assessments begin as staff and volunteers try to restore hope.

But some trips take an unexpected turn, and Hani explains that while the majority of folks in Louisiana were grateful, a handful turned the help away. “That was the first time I had ever experienced someone turning down help,” he says. Hear his story to find out why his team was told to leave a parish, how relief workers have been affected by prejudice, and why that doesn’t change the work they do. “If we were called to Louisiana I would go there in a heartbeat, even if I was asked to go to that same parish,” he says.

Hani shares touching stories, like the account of a young woman from Monroe whose own tragic loss turned her to volunteer work. After losing everything in the flood, she turned her grief into action. “Me and my daughters are okay, so I wanted to make sure that others who lost everything are okay as well,” she had told Hani.

Tune in to experience the aftermath of the Louisiana flood through Hani’s eyes, and learn what it takes to be part of a humanitarian relief effort.

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“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Co-hosted by social media specialist B.C. DodgeMordant Mahon, IRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!


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