HOUMA, La. (AP) -Full restoration of electricity to some of the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana was hit in an unprecedented degree by Hurricane Ida, which could last until the end of the month, the head of Entergy Louisiana warned Saturday.
At least 16 deaths were blamed for the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Ida damaged or destroyed more than 22,000 electric poles, more than Hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined, an impact on Entergy’s CEO Phillip May called “dizzying”. More than 5,200 transformers failed, and nearly 26,000 wire spans – the length of transmission lines between poles – were down.
“The level of destruction makes it quite difficult or almost impossible to get in and assess some places fully,” May said of five southeastern Louisiana parishes facing the longest delays. The company estimates full restoration by September 29 or even longer for some customers.
About a quarter of New Orleans residents have power left, including all of the city’s hospitals, and the city’s 27 substations are ready to serve customers, said Deanna Rodriguez, Entergy New Orleans president and CEO. Most customers should have power back on Wednesday, Entergy said.
One of the parishes facing long delays in power recovery is Terrebonne, where volunteers in Houma parish seat shared ice cream, water and meals out to shell-shocked storm survivors Saturday. Houma is located about 90 miles southwest of New Orleans.
Among those in need was 26-year-old Kendall Duthu from Dulac, who collected a container of red beans and rice and pulled an Infiniti over with a broken windshield to eat.
Duthu has been living in his car with his girlfriend since the storm hit. He was a chef at a jambalaya restaurant before the pandemic claimed that job, then a car wash worker until it disappeared. Duthu, a diabetic, lost his house in the storm and does not know what to do.
“Next stop, I’m not doing it right …” he said and followed. “We just lived day by day.”
Houmas Hancock Whitney Bank, which is itself badly damaged by Ida, has been distributing water along with about 42,000 meals since Tuesday, CEO John Hairston said.
“Hurricanes are just a part of life,” he said. “Buildings come and go. We may be on another block. But next storm we are here. ”
South of Houma, shattered trees, flooded furniture and debris from houses filled with roadsides. In Ashland, Louisiana, 27-year-old Rene Gregoire Jr. stood. outside his house, where windows blew out and water flowed in. It was the last blow to the tugboat worker after severely injuring his wrist at work and contracting COVID-19, and his dog required $ 3,000 surgery.
“It’s my home, but I need to find something new,” Gregoire said, considering moving to Arizona with his girlfriend.
Just south of Bayou Grand Caillou, Harry Bonvillain was investigating damage to his home, the house erected on concrete pillars now surrounded by a maze of broken stairs and shattered timber.
Many of Bonvillain’s belongings were lost, mildew covered his clothes and ants took over the house. With so much attention in New Orleans, the 58-year-old Bonvillain wondered why more people did not care about smaller communities like his.
He described himself as: “Sick. Tired. Stressed out. Depressed. The anxiety is high. ”
Some parishes outside New Orleans was raped for hours by winds of 160 km / h or more.
On Saturday morning, 97% of the damage assessment was completed and the power was restored to about 282,000 customers from the top of 902,000 blackouts after Ida.
The lower Mississippi River reopened to all vessel traffic in New Orleans and ports in southeastern Louisiana after power lines from a dropped transmission tower were removed, the Coast Guard said.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city offered transportation to any resident who wants to leave the city and get to a public shelter.
By the end of Saturday, wellness control agencies had evacuated hundreds of people out of eight senior complexes where officials deemed conditions unfit to live. The Forensic Office is investigating four deaths after the storm that occurred at three of these facilities.
With temperatures in the 90s Saturday, many New Orleans residents were just trying to stay cool.
At the Treme Recreation Community Center, an enclosed complex in the historic Black and Creole neighborhood, cars lined up for blocks to receive water, food and ice rations.
“It’s just not common sense to make us go that far in the heat,” Albert Taylor Jr., 76, said, dripping sweat as he tried to balance three cartons of water and a daily humanitarian ration on the walker he uses due to of hip and knee arthritis. He and other disabled residents lived without power in a rental unit blocks away.
In the lower ninth ward, a neighborhood that suffered enormously after Katrina, Lationa Kemp, 57, was too far from the town hall to walk. On Saturday, she relied on neighbors with cars to pick up ice cream, hot meals and bottled water.
As recovery efforts continued Saturday, government officials monitored a system of disturbed weather in Mexico’s Campeche Bay that appeared to be moving into the central Gulf of Mexico closer to Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is planning an exercise to assess its emergency preparedness if necessary. Predictions so far do not show that the system is strengthening for a hurricane, but he said “even though it is a tropical storm, we are not able to receive as much rainfall at this time.”
“We can’t take the playbook we normally use because people and assets are no longer where they would have been,” Edwards said. “How do you staff the shelters you need for the new storm and keep testing for COVID? My head hurts just thinking about it. … We want to be as ready as we can be, but I pray we do not have to do it. ”
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard responded on Monday a significant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after the storm. The ongoing spill appears to come from an underwater source at an offshore drilling lease account about three miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
President Joe Biden arrived Friday to investigate storm damage, who toured in a neighborhood in LaPlace, between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, which suffered catastrophic wind and water damage that cut off roofs and flooded homes.
The president also promised full federal support for the Northeast, where Ida’s remains dumped record rain and killed at least 50 people from Virginia to Connecticut.
Louisiana’s 12 storm-related deaths included five nursing home residents evacuated in front of the hurricane along with hundreds of other seniors to a warehouse in Louisiana, where health officials said conditions became unclear and unsafe.
On Saturday night, State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter ordered the immediate closure of the seven nursing facilities that sent residents to the Tangipahoa Parish’s storage facility. “The lack of respect for the welfare of these vulnerable residents is an insult to human dignity. We have lost confidence in these nursing homes to provide appropriate care to their residents, ”Kanter said.
The health department reported Friday the death of a 59-year-old man suspected of being poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator that ran inside his home. Several deaths after the storm have been blamed for carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen if generators are run incorrectly.
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