After Hurricane Ida, recovery is patchy in Louisiana

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In New Orleans, an ongoing power outage after Hurricane Ida makes the sweltering summer unbearable. But in some areas outside the city, this misery is compounded by a lack of water, flooded neighborhoods and badly damaged houses.

Four days after Hurricane Ida passed, the impact of the storm – and progress in recovery – is unevenly felt in affected communities in Louisiana. The levee system was revamped after Katrina protected New Orleans from catastrophic flooding after Ida struck Sunday with winds of 150 mph, tied for the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the Americas

Power was restored before dawn Thursday to parts of the city’s central business district, Uptown, Midtown, New Orleans East and the Carrollton area, the Entergy power company said. Utility crews also restored power to the main campus of Ochsner Hospital in Jefferson Parish and several hospitals near Baton Rouge. City crews have completely cleared some New Orleans streets of fallen trees and debris, and a few local stores have reopened.

Outside of New Orleans, neighborhoods remained flooded and residents were still reeling from the damage to their homes and property. More than 1,200 people were walking through some of Ida’s hardest-hit communities looking for those in need of help, according to the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office. President Joe Biden was due to visit Louisiana on Friday to assess the damage, the White House said.

Gayle Lawrence lost two cars, refrigerators and almost everything in her garage to flood waters in the parish of Plaquemines in southern Louisiana. The garage was filled with swamp grasses and dead fish. Dozens of other houses in the area were also flooded.

Members of the National Guard prepare to help with the damage from Hurricane Ida Wednesday in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

“The house is solid. It hasn’t even moved. But when the water came up, it destroyed everything,” she said.

Authorities in Jefferson Parish were still waiting for floodwaters to recede enough for trucks carrying food, water and repair supplies to begin moving to Lafitte and other communities in the Jefferson Parish on Wednesday. low altitude. The neighboring parish of New Orleans and saw the widespread destruction of Ida.

Parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng said a gas shortage was hampering hospital staff, food bank workers and other essential workers.

“Today we are a broken community,” Sheng said at a press conference. “It won’t always be like this.”

Evacuees planning to return home to Terrebonne Parish were warned by emergency officials on Twitter that “there is no shelter, no electricity, very limited resources for food, there is ‘gasoline and supplies and absolutely no medical services’.

The leader of Louisiana’s largest hospital system, Ochsner Health, plans to open a field hospital somewhere in Terrebonne or in the parish of Lafourche because the closure of most hospitals in the area has cut about 250 to 300 beds. When “people come back, it will definitely put a strain on the situation,” Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas told reporters.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he was happy that power had returned for some people. It is “extremely important to show progress” after the storm, he said, while acknowledging that there is still a lot of work to be done. About 2,600 people remain in shelters, he said.

A man helps his wife and child get on a boat after a hurricane.

Marlon Maldonado helps his wife and child board a boat to their home after Hurricane Ida floods Tuesday in Barataria, Louisiana. “I lost everything in my trailer because of the hurricane. I lost everything, my family lost everything and now we are trying to find help. We all live in this area and now everything is gone.” Fusto Maldonado said when asked about the effect of the storm.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

“I am very aware that this is a start, and only a start,” he said at a press conference.

As the staggering scale of the disaster began to kick in, with a private company estimating that Ida’s total damage could exceed $ 50 billion, making it one of America’s costliest hurricanes.

Ida’s remains caused catastrophic flooding in and around New York City and tornadoes struck Philadelphia. At least nine deaths have been confirmed in the northeast, with authorities warning there will be more once authorities confirm details.

But about 989,000 homes and businesses – 44% of all utility customers in Southeast Louisiana, from the New Orleans area to Baton Rouge – were without power, according to the Public Service Commission of the ‘State. In neighboring Mississippi, more than 30,000 customers did not have electricity. More than 600,000 people were without water.

Hard-hit areas in southeast Louisiana were subject to a heat advisory on Thursday, with forecasters warning that the combined heat and humidity could make some areas appear to have a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius ).

Officials in New Orleans opened seven places where people could eat and sit in the air conditioning. The city was also using 70 transit buses as cooling sites, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

Karen Evans loaded electronic devices into a New Orleans gym where four big fans waved the air. Her house in the city was not damaged, but she struggled without electricity.

“The big challenge is living in a stuffy place without air conditioning,” she said.

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