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Piles of crumbled bricks lay on Main Street street and sidewalk in front of a demolished building in Houma, Monday, August 30, 2021, after Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday then marched inland.

According to the national narrative, the story of Katrina was that a great American city was brought to its knees. There were many times after the 2005 monster storm and levee failures that survivors felt forgotten. But in the end, the country stuck with New Orleans and nearby affected areas, kept sending volunteers and invested many billions in housing, storm defense upgrades and more. In that same year, Hurricane Rita's landfall in the Lake Charles area was something of an afterthought nationally.

Baton Rouge didn’t get Katrina-level attention after the 2016 flood, whether because it’s not as iconic, because the deluge wasn’t caused by a named storm, or because disaster fatigue from more frequent extreme weather events had set in. But the capital region did have the advantage of being a place people elsewhere had heard of, the seat of state government and home to major universities and significant industry.

The areas worst hit by Hurricane Ida, which threaded the needle between Louisiana’s two best-known cities, aren’t nearly so well-known. That’s surely why part of the emerging narrative is that because Ida swerved away from Baton Rouge — and New Orleans’ new flood defenses held — things could have been worse. Without discounting the suffering from prolonged power outages, for people in the big cities that’s largely true.

For those who found themselves in Ida’s direct path, though, the devastation is hard to overstate.

Roofs were ripped off and homes splintered from Grand Isle well inland. Severe damage reached as far north as St. Helena and Tangipahoa, where more than 60% of customers were still without electricity Tuesday.

Power is expected to be out in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes for a month, and Entergy Louisiana says it will take not just a restoration but a complete rebuild to bring 75,000 customers there back online. Responding to reports of electricity slowly returning to New Orleans, Houma state Rep. Tanner Magee wrote in an emotional tweet that “our hospital for 100,000 people is a tent. Ppl are being evicted from their condemned apartments with no place to go. We are not even close to having power.”

The flooding in St. John the Baptist Parish, where a long-awaited federal levee is not finished, was so bad that it drew a visit from President Joe Biden, who said that he knows people there are hurting.

That acknowledgment from the nation’s highest office is important, but just the beginning. As Magee suggested, the story of Ida’s devastation is the destruction of smaller communities that most Americas wouldn’t be able to locate on a map, but that are collectively home to tens of thousands of people who deserve their attention and their help throughout the long, hard recovery process.

The more recent experience of Lake Charles is a cautionary tale. Struck in 2020 by Hurricane Laura, the only storm to hit Louisiana in over a century that rivaled Ida’s wrath, the area quickly dropped off the national radar and has now waited more than a year for a Congressional appropriation to create a housing program that would bring its residents back.

To their credit, many officials in the state seized on immediate attention to Ida to remind the nation that the Laura-impacted region still has huge needs, and suggested folding the two disasters into a single aid package. We strongly support that idea.

Even more, we urge everyone in Louisiana whose lives will soon return to normal to make sure their neighbors in harder hit communities aren’t forgotten. If we don’t, who will?