Louisiana governor tells Hurricane Ida evacuees it’s too soon to return

More than 1m homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi without power but restoration could take weeks

The Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, has told those who fled their homes amid the aftermath of Hurricane Ida to not come home until officials say otherwise.

“Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present, they’re not operating right now,” Edwards said in a news conference on Tuesday. “So if you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in south-east Louisiana until the office of emergency preparedness tells you it’s ready to receive you.”

Edwards traveled with Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) to survey the damage firsthand. Fema teams arriving Tuesday plan to go house to house in hard-hit neighborhoods to register people for aid, especially in areas with widespread cellphone outages.

More than 1m homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi – including all of New Orleans – were left without power after Ida hit the electric grid on Sunday. In addition to toppling a major transmission tower, the hurricane knocked out thousands of miles of lines and hundreds of substations.

New Orleans was under a nighttime curfew after the mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered one on Tuesday, calling it an effort to prevent crime during the outage. The curfew will go into effect from 8pm Tuesday to 6am Wednesday.

The mayor also said she expects the main power company Entergy to be able to provide some electricity to the city by Wednesday evening, but stressed that doesn’t mean a quick citywide restoration. Rather, she said, the energy company will be able to begin restoring its mangled distribution system of snapped poles and tangled lines.

About 25,000 utility workers are trying to restore electricity, which officials say could take weeks. Additionally, about 441,000 people in 17 parishes had no water, as numerous water treatment plants were overwhelmed by flood waters or crippled by power outages. Another 319,000 were under boil-water advisories, according to federal officials.

As residents remain stranded without electricity, tap water and gasoline, many Louisianans, particularly the vulnerable ones, also faced a sweltering heatwave. A heat advisory was issued for the region as forecasters said the combination of high temperature and humidity could make it feel like 105F (41C) on Wednesday.

In the state, one person has died in floodwaters and one was killed by a falling tree. In Mississippi, two people have died and at least 20 were injured after their vehicles plunged into a deep hole where a highway collapsed, probably due to torrential rain.

“There’s no electricity. Our desperate need right now is tarps, gasoline for generators, food, water,” said Chad Ducote, a pastor in Houma, Louisiana. “The people down here are just doing what they can. They don’t have anything,” he added.

Gen Daniel Hokanson, chief of the national guard, announced on Tuesday that more than 6,000 national guard members have been deployed to assist with rescue and relief efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and surrounding areas.

According to Edwards, state officials were working to set up stations to distribute food, water and ice, as well as cooling stations and places where people on oxygen could plug in their machines.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process,” Edwards said as cleanup and rebuilding efforts begin across the state.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

Contributor

Maya Yang

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Hurricane Ida barrels down on Louisiana amid warnings of ‘life-altering storm’
Tens of thousands in US face evacuation orders as storm makes first landfall in Cuba, sparking fears of floods and mudslides

Oliver Laughland in New Orleans

28, Aug, 2021 @12:46 AM

Article image
New Orleans battered by Hurricane Ida as storm claims first victim in Louisiana
A million households without power as governor says system of levees overhauled after Hurricane Katrina will face ‘most severe test’

Oliver Laughland in New Orleans, Lauren Aratani in New York and agencies

30, Aug, 2021 @1:07 PM

Article image
Hurricane Ida: New Orleans loses power as category 4 storm hits
Storm hits land on 16th anniversary of Katrina, with Louisiana governor confident levees will hold

Oliver Laughland in New Orleans

30, Aug, 2021 @1:03 AM

Article image
Hurricane Ida: more than 1m without power as New Orleans assesses damage
Crews using airboats and helicopters conduct search and rescue missions after at least two people killed

Oliver Laughland in New Orleans and Richard Luscombe

31, Aug, 2021 @7:52 AM

Article image
Hurricane Ida: first death in Louisiana as New Orleans loses power – as it happened
Sheriffs say person killed by falling tree in Prairieville as city of New Orleans falls back on power generators after network fails

Lauren Aratani (now) and Rebecca Ratcliffe and Martin Farrer (earlier)

30, Aug, 2021 @6:51 PM

Article image
Hurricane Delta: Louisiana battered by 100mph winds as storm makes landfall
National Hurricane Center warns of ‘significant’ flash flooding surge in state hit by Hurricane Laura six weeks ago

Miranda Bryant in New York

10, Oct, 2020 @12:06 AM

Article image
New Orleans defences hold up to Hurricane Isaac

Fortified levees and an elaborate flood containment plan appear to have spared city from disaster

Rory Carroll, Tom Dart and agencies in New Orleans

30, Aug, 2012 @10:31 AM

Article image
'Do not drop your guard': Tropical Storm Barry threatens heavy rain after landfall
New Orleans residents told to seek shelter as 50,000 coastal residents left without power and NHC director details ‘amazing amount of moisture’

Jamiles Lartey in New Orleans and agencies

13, Jul, 2019 @9:37 PM

Article image
Isaac to become hurricane as New Orleans braces for impact

Storm likely to reach land as category one hurricane on Katrina's seventh anniversary – but mayor decides not to order evacuation

Tom Dart and Ingrid Norton in New Orleans

28, Aug, 2012 @1:35 PM

Article image
‘Like a monster tried to get in’: New Orleans, scarred by Katrina, surveys Ida’s wreckage
Residents grapple with damaged buildings and widespread power outages – but find reasons to be thankful

Oliver Laughland in New Orleans and Bridge City, Louisiana

31, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM