Hurricane Ida has left millions of residents in the southeastern U.S. state of Louisiana without electricity and clean running water.
Eight electric transmission lines that feed the tourist city of New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana were damaged or destroyed when Ida made landfall Sunday along the state’s coastline packing winds of 240 kilometers an hour, with one transmission tower falling into the Mississippi River.
State authorities and regional utility company Entergy said it could be as long as 30 days before power is fully restored, raising concerns that residents without air conditioning will become ill from the area’s searing late-summer heat, which forecasters say could reach anywhere between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius. Schools have been closed indefinitely, while many hospitals that are already filled with COVID-19 patients are functioning on emergency electric generators.
Officials in New Orleans have opened up emergency centers around the city for residents to cool off, obtain food and water and charge their mobile devices.
Residents across the region have been waiting in long lines for hours to get the gas needed to run the portable electric generators to provide some electricity for their homes.
“Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present, they’re not operating right now,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Tuesday as he urged residents who have evacuated to stay away during the crisis.
Officials with Entergy said power was restored to 85,000 customers as of late Tuesday, and that some service could be restored in New Orleans by Wednesday evening.
Outside of New Orleans, efforts by law enforcement and volunteers continued Tuesday to rescue scores of residents who remain trapped in their homes in several flooded towns. Many areas have been cut off due to downed trees and other debris that have blocked roads.
At least four people have died as a result of Hurricane Ida, including two people who were killed in the collapse of a major highway in the neighboring state of Mississippi.
Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans when the flood protection system known as levees failed and left the city underwater, killing 1,800 people and trapping thousands of other residents for days.
Ida has since dissipated into a tropical depression that is making its way north into central Tennessee, parts of which are still recovering from flash flooding that killed at least 20 people earlier in August. The storm system has dumped so much rain in the area that organizers of a popular annual music festival held outside of Nashville, the state capital, were forced to cancel the upcoming event.
The National Hurricane Center says Ida is also expected to cause potentially life-threatening flash flooding and tornadoes across Tennessee and into North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.