Louisiana one week after Ida: Widespread power outages persist, death toll mounts


(NEW YORK) — Nearly one week on, Louisiana is struggling to recover from Hurricane Ida’s devastating blow.

Ida, which is tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland in history, killed at least 10 in Louisiana, dumped more than 13 inches of rain in some southern regions and left whole neighborhoods underwater.

Over 721,000 customers in the state remain without power statewide, according to data from PowerOutage.us, as the state swelters under a heat advisory.

All power is expected to be restored in Orleans Parish by Sept. 8., energy company Entergy said in a statement. Over 1 million were left powerless in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Several communities continue to grapple with water outages and boil-water advisories.

Due to the continued power outages, New Orleans is offering daily transportation assistance to residents who want to temporarily relocate to state-run public shelters, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a news release Friday.

“RTA will pick up residents from 12 City facilities utilized during our recovery response. We have been coordinating direct outreach to our senior housing facilities and apartment complexes to ensure that we are meeting our folks where they are,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that 3,400 people are being sheltered by the state.

On Friday the Louisiana Department of Health announced a 10th fatality in the state: a 59-year-old man poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator believed to be running in his home.

Among the dead, were four nursing home residents who were transferred to a warehouse for the hurricane and later died. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has opened an investigation into the deaths.

The coroner determined three of the deaths to be storm-related, though the residents’ definitive causes of death have not been confirmed.

On Aug. 27, two days before Ida made landfall, the LDH learned of the four deaths at the warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish.

The probe will look into who decided to move the patients to “this apparently unsafe and potentially inappropriate facility,” who later “turned away career staff members of the LDH when they attempted to look into this situation” and “why did the police chief and the sheriff state an investigation was not needed.”

President Joe Biden surveyed the damage of the storm on the ground in several neighborhoods, including LaPlace, Friday. La Place, straddled between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain suffered severe water damage and flooding.

“I promise we’re going to have your back,” Biden said in a briefing.

He pledged to help with financial assistance and said the government has already distributed $100 million directly to individuals in the state through $500 checks to get them on their feet.

Now, people in communities where streets turned into rivers and roofs were ripped off in Ida’s 150 mph winds are trying to piece their lives back together.

Officials in Jefferson Parish called Grand Isle, a popular vacation site, “uninhabitable”. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development posted a warning on its website Thursday urging people to stay away citing multiple washouts along roadways, no electricity, running water or essential supplies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s individual assistance director Chris Smith said there’s been a record number of individual assistance applications coming in from Louisiana, particularly the New Orleans area. To date, 290,000 applications for individual assistance have come in, he said in a conference call with reporters Friday,

“This is a record number of applicants that we have received from the Louisiana Ida declaration. We received more applications in the first two days of this disaster than we received in any other disaster in recent history,” he said.

After hammering Louisiana, Ida went on to pummel the Northeast, triggering record rainfall and devastating flooding. Overall, there have been at least 63 deaths across eight U.S. states related to Ida.

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