As emergency response crews begin to survey the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, thousands of homes in Louisiana’s coastal communities are left unrecognisable from the impact of the storm, which made landfall on 29 August as a category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds.
As flood waters recede and damage is cleared from roadways across several parishes and low-lying communities in the storm’s path, residents and emergency personnel have assessed catastrophic damage – collapsed homes, battered roofs and flooded homes.
President Joe Biden will visit the state on 3 September and stay through the weekend to meet with state and local officials and survey damage in hard-hit areas.
More than 1 million residents in the state remain without power, as officials and utility companies dispatch thousands of workers to repair lines, transformers and critical electric infrastructure damaged by the storm.
In New Orleans, where roughly 200,000 residents stayed during the storm’s impact, utility company Entergy restored power to a sliver of New Orleans East on Wednesday morning, the company announced, adding that “full restoration will still take time given the significant damage across the region.”
Governor John Bel Edwards said he spoke with the White House several times over fuel concerns, as residents queue in hours-long lines in the heat to fill gas cans, or form equally long queues in their cars, in hopes of fuelling generators or filling up their tanks to get out of town.
“Louisiana provides fuel for the rest of the country, and now we need the rest of the country to give up a little bit of their fuel,” the governor said on Wednesday.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell also said she is urging FEMA for fuel.
Residents and restaurants have meanwhile organised massive food and water drives, used generator power to open community device-charging stations, and supported statewide mutual aid efforts to help fund relocation efforts and support vulnerable residents stuck in hot and humid conditions.
State and federal emergency responders have also opened pick-up points for supplies and cooling stations to avoid the heat.
Officials have urged residents who evacuated to avoid re-entering the state until crews have made more progress in clean-up and rebuilding efforts.
The remnants of Ida, which dissipated into a tropical depression as it moved inland, also brought flooding, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall across the northeastern US on 1 September.
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Thousands could be left without power for weeks as crews assess widespread damages
Restoring power to thousands of homes in New Orleans and surrounding parishes could take days or even weeks, after Hurricane Ida slammed into southeast Louisiana and knocked out all eight electricity transmission lines powering the region, including a critical tower that collapsed near the Mississippi River.
More than 1.1 million homes and businesses without power and limited cell service
In Ida's aftermath, no quick relief in sight for Louisiana
Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Ida scrambled for food, gas, water and relief from the sweltering heat as thousands of line workers toiled to restore electricity and officials vowed to set up more sites where people could get free meals and cool off.
Power and water outages affected hundreds of thousands of people, many of them with no way to get immediate relief.
“I don’t have a car. I don’t have no choice but to stay,” said Charles Harris, 58, as he looked for a place to eat Tuesday in a New Orleans’ neighborhood where Ida snapped utility poles and brought down power lines two days earlier.
More from this dispatch from the Associated Press:
Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Ida are scrambling for food, gas, water and relief from the oppressive heat
Power returns to small parts of New Orleans
Entergy New Orleans, the utility company that provides the city with its electricity and gas, restored power to a small portion of New Orleans East on Wednesday morning.
“With extensive damage to the system across the region, much of the redundancy built into the electric system is limited,” Entergy’s Lee Sabatini said in a statement. “This makes it difficult to move power around the region to customers, and limits options to power customers in the event of equipment failure or additional damage to the system.”
Roughly 800,000 Entergy customers were without power as of Tuesday.
Deaths linked to Ida climb to at least seven across four states
The reported death of a man at a flooded apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland is at least the seventh death linked to Ida, as the remnants of the powerful storm bring flooding rains to the northeastern US.
One man died while attempting to drive through floodwaters in New Orleans, and another person in Prairieville, Louisiana died after a tree fell through his home.
Two electrical workers died in Alabama as they worked to restore downed power lines, and two people were killed in a highway accident after the road collapsed from torrential downpours.
Seven cars had to be pulled from a chasm by a crane after the highway washed away
Officials expect the death toll to climb as crews begin to assess damages in severely impacted parts of southeastern Louisiana.
How the climate crisis played a role in fueling Hurricane Ida
Ida’s impact is compounded by the degradation of Louisiana’s critical coastal wetlands, which have provided a natural barrier from immediate storm impacts, and the oil and gas industry’s ongoing grip in the region, including literal carved-out channels in waterway for its infrastructure.
Several factors linked to the climate crisis are helping to fuel more powerful, destructive storms like Ida, climate correspondent Louise Boyle reports.
The ocean absorbs over 90 per cent of excess heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and that warm water feeds hurricanes.
As the planet warms, more moisture is held in the atmosphere, which means that storms also bring the possibility of a lot more rainfall.
Hurricane Ida made landfall near New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
How Louisiana hospitals are handling Ida during a pandemic
New Orleans EMS has responded to at least a dozen patients with carbon monoxide poisoning from using generators after Hurricane Ida cut off power to most of southeast Louisiana.
Several hospitals in hard-hit areas have evacuated patients, underscoring the critical lack of access to emergency care in the aftermath of the storm, in a state that has had alarmingly high numbers of hospitalised patients and Covid-19 infections during the public health crisis. Area hospitals were at or near capacity, and patients were not able to be transferred ahead of the storm because of over-burdened hospitals in neighbouring areas from Covid-19.
Hospitals are relying on generator power, as utility crews work to prioritise getting electricity to medical centres.
Dozens of patients from Ochsner hospitals – one of the largest health systems in the state – have been moved from Houma, Luling and Raceland facilities to hospitals in Baton Rouge, Morgan City and New Orleans.
More than 100 patients were transferred from Terrebonne General Health System in Houma. No patients have been injured during transfers, and generator power is expected to last at least another week.
Entergy New Orleans, which provides electricity and gas service to the city, has restored some power to the VA hospital.
New Orleans mayor: We need fuel
As gas stations slowly begin to open around New Orleans, residents have stood in hours-long lines in the intense heat to fill gas cans, or formed equally long queues in their cars, in hopes of fuelling generators or filling up their tanks to get out of town.
On Wednesday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told reporters that she has repeatedly asked FEMA for commercial fuel.
“We are pushing that every step of the way,” she said.
Biden to visit Louisiana on Friday
The president will visit south Louisiana on Friday and is expected to tour hard-hit parishes and meet with state and local officials through the weekend.
Two women trapped in submerged car rescued by police officers in Mississippi
Mississippi police officers rescued two women who stranded in a car surrounded by floodwaters in Ida’s aftermath.
Mississippi police officers rescued two women who became stranded in a car surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Tropical Depression Ida.Bodycam footage captures the moment Officer Collier rushed to the pair’s aid when he spotted their vehicle trapped by the water.With the help of his assistant, Sergeant Murphy, the pair were pulled to safety from the vehicle’s window.Pascagoula Police Department said: “Public Safety comes in many forms, and sometimes you have to make a few waves.”At least six deaths have been confirmed since Ida made landfall last week.
Saints to play season opener in Jacksonville
The New Orleans Saints will play their 2021-2022 NFL season opener against the Green Bay Packers on 12 September in Jacksonville, Florida, moving their home field from the Superdome to Florida.
“Due to the impact of Hurricane Ida on New Orleans and surrounding areas on August 29-30, the decision to move the game to Jacksonville provides the city of New Orleans the greatest ability to continue storm clean up procedures and allow the city’s infrastructure to recover and allow all resources to be directed towards the most expedient recovery possible,” the team said in a statement.
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