Assess the damage as Ida continues to advance
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage from Hurricane Ida scrambled for food, gas, water and relief from the heat on Wednesday sweltering as thousands of line workers worked to restore power and officials vowed to create more sites where people can get free meals and cool off.
There was a silver lining when the utility company Entergy announced that its crews had turned on power to parts of eastern New Orleans, but did not specify how many homes and businesses were illuminated. Yet power and water outages affected hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had no way of getting immediate help.
” I do not have a car. I have no choice but to stay, ”said Charles Harris, 58, as he searched for a place to eat on Tuesday in a New Orleans neighborhood where Ida broke utility poles and knocked over. power lines.
Harris did not have access to a generator and said the heat was starting to tire him. New Orleans and the rest of the region were on a heat advisory, with forecasters saying the high temperatures and humidity could make the temperature appear to be 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) Wednesday.
New Orleans officials announced seven places in the city where people could have a meal and sit in the air conditioning. The city was also using 70 transit buses as cooling sites and was expected to have drive-through food, water and ice distribution points on Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. Distribution points have also been set up in other parts of the state, the governor said.
Ida was the fifth strongest storm to hit the United States when it hit Louisiana on Sunday with maximum winds of 240 km / h. The hurricane likely caused $ 50 billion or more in total damage, Karen Clark of risk modeling firm Karen Clark and Company told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The mayor estimated that about half of New Orleans’ population had been evacuated before Ida struck. Those who remained worked to slowly restore a sense of order. In parts of the city, flags were hung from dangling power lines to help drivers avoid them. In one neighborhood, someone decorated the downed lines with strands of garlands echoing Mardi Gras.
City crews clearing road debris and chopping down fallen trees had cleared some streets almost completely, while others remained cluttered with obstacles.
A few convenience stores were open. Many only took cash, although some had working ATMs. In many areas, National Guard or law enforcement soldiers were stationed at pharmacies and gas stations, where drivers stood in long lines for fuel.
A nighttime curfew in New Orleans went into effect Tuesday in an effort to prevent crime. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said there had been arrests for theft.
Although some lights returned on Wednesday, a statement from the Entergy power company said reconnecting all of New Orleans “will still take some time given the extensive damage” to the city’s power grid.
The company said it was looking first to restore power to “critical infrastructure” such as hospitals, nursing homes and first responders.
The number of hurricane deaths rose to at least five in Louisiana and Mississippi when Jefferson Parish officials confirmed that a woman was found dead at her home in the community of Lafitte. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Captain Jason Rivarde said the woman was found during rescue operations on Monday. He gave no further details.
The dead include two people killed Monday night when seven vehicles plunged into a 20-foot-deep hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, where a freeway collapsed after torrential rains. Among them was construction worker Kent Brown, a “beloved” 49-year-old father of two, his brother Keith Brown said. Governor John Bel Edwards has said he expects the death toll to rise.
Hopes that New Orleans airport would reopen on Wednesday were short-lived, with airport officials saying in a statement that plans to resume limited flights had been pushed back to Thursday. The airport has been closed since the storm.
The New Orleans airport, closed since the start of the storm, planned to reopen Wednesday for “very limited” flights, according to an airport statement. Only American Airlines had scheduled flights for Wednesday, but officials “are hoping for more normal operations later in the week,” he said.
Ida caused massive flooding and structural damage to Houma, LaPlace, and other communities outside of New Orleans.
Grand Isle Barrier Island, which has endured all of Ida’s fury, is ‘uninhabitable’ with every building damaged, Jefferson Ward President Cynthia Lee Sheng told a press conference . There were also numerous ruptures in the dike system and a strong smell of natural gas, she said.
Over a million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power when Ida slammed the power grid, toppling a large transmission tower and destroying thousands of miles of line and hundreds of cents -stations.
More than 25,000 utility workers are estimated to have worked to restore power, but officials said it could take weeks.
Kisha Brown, a medical receptionist who weathered the storm with her two daughters in her apartment, was among hundreds of people who turned to one of the New Orleans locations to distribute free meals. She lost power and said her food supplies were dwindling. His other main concern was the heat.
“My last resort would probably be to go to the hospital,” she said. “They’ll let me in if I show my ID.”
Other residents relied on generators, raising safety concerns. Paramedics took 12 people – five adults and seven children – from a single home to hospitals on Wednesday to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services said in a statement. . Officials pleaded with people to keep generators outside and away from open windows.
About 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of the town of LaPlace, Enola Vappie and her sons sat in her carport hoping to catch a breeze as the temperature inside her. damaged house was going up without electricity to run the air conditioning.
Vappie, 78, was one of some 441,000 people without water statewide after flooding and power outages brought treatment plants to a standstill. She was thinking about what she would do when it came back.
“I can’t wait to take a good bubble bath,” she said. “I could live in this tub.”