Ida’s stifling consequences: no electricity, no water, no gasoline


New Orleans officials announced seven places in the city where people could have a meal and sit in the air conditioning.

Edwards said state officials were also working to set up places to distribute food, water and ice, but that would not start on Tuesday. The governor’s office also said discussions were underway about setting up cooling stations and places for people on oxygen to plug in their machines, but had no details on when these might be. operational.

More than a million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi – including all of New Orleans – were without power when Ida slammed the power grid on Sunday with her 240 km / h winds, knocking down a large transmission tower and knocking out thousands of miles of lines and hundreds of substations.

More than 25,000 utility workers are estimated to have worked to restore power, but officials said it could take weeks.

With water treatment plants overwhelmed by floods or crippled by power outages, some places also face shortages of drinking water. About 441,000 people in 17 parishes did not have water, and another 319,000 were on boil water advisories, federal officials said.

The death toll rose to at least four in Louisiana and Mississippi, including two people killed Monday night when seven vehicles plunged into a 20-foot-deep hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, where a highway had collapsed after torrential rains. Edwards said he expects the death toll to rise.

In Slidell, teams searched for a 71-year-old man who was attacked by an alligator that tore off his arm as he walked through Ida’s floodwaters. His wife pulled him up to the steps of the house and rowed for help, but when he returned he was gone, authorities said.

Wildlife officials have warned of bears, snakes, alligators and feral pigs searching for food in the aftermath of the storm.

Edwards traveled with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell to see the damage with his own eyes. She said FEMA teams arriving on Tuesday would travel house-to-house in hard-hit neighborhoods to register people for help, especially in areas where cell phone outages are rampant.

In New Orleans, drivers lined up for about a quarter of a mile, waiting to board a Costco that was one of the few places in town with gasoline on it. At other gas stations, motorists occasionally stopped at pumps, saw the handles covered in plastic bags, and drove off.

Renell Debose spent a week suffering in the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina of 2005, which killed 1,500 people and left the city nearly uninhabitable. She said she was ready to give him a few days without electricity, but no more.

“I love my city. I was made for it. But I can’t do it without air conditioning,” she said.

Shelly Huff, who like Debose was waiting for gas at Costco, said, “It’s been tough. Not having power is probably the worst thing. But I have great neighbors, the one who evacuated left us a generator. We shared some food and supplies so it wasn’t too bad.

“I could probably go a week without electricity, but longer and I’m going to have to leave town,” she said.

Michael Pinkrah used his declining fuel to find food. He cradled his 3 week old son in the backseat of an SUV and his 2 year old daughter played in the front seat as his wife lined up in the sweltering heat to enter one of the few grocery stores open in city.

Pinkrah said he and his wife had considered evacuating but were unable to find a hotel room. They found out about the open store via social media. But even that connection was tenuous.

“We can’t charge our electronic devices to keep in touch with people. And without that, all communication fails, ”he said.

Elsewhere in New Orleans, Hank Fanberg had a cooking plan: “I have a gas grill and a charcoal grill.

In hard-hit Houma, the grim reality of life without air conditioning, refrigeration or other more basic needs began to set in.

“Our desperate need right now is tarps, gasoline for generators, food, water,” said Pastor Chad Ducote. He said a Mississippi church group arrived with food and supplies, and neighbors came to his pool to collect buckets of water.

“The people here are doing what they can. They have nothing, ”he said.

The scorching weather added to the misery. A heat advisory has been issued for New Orleans and the rest of the region, with forecasters saying the combination of high temperatures and humidity could give an impression of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday and 106 degrees on Wednesday .

Also stuck in New Orleans are tourists who didn’t get out before the storm. The airport canceled all inbound and outbound commercial flights for a third day, saying the lack of electricity and water meant no air conditioning or toilets.

Cynthia Andrews couldn’t return home to New Orleans if she wanted to. She was in a wheelchair, attached by a power cord to the generator system that operated the elevators and hallway lights at Le Méridien Hotel.

When the power was cut on Sunday, the machine that helps Andrews breathe after a lung collapse in 2018 stopped working. The hotel let her stay in the lobby, giving her a cot after spending most of the night in her wheelchair.

“It was so scary, but as long as this thing keeps working, it’s going to be fine,” she said.

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