The desperation of those who rode out the storm can be seen in the four- to five-hour-long lines at the one or two gas stations still open in St. Bernard Parish, Council Member Richard Lewis said. Many stocked up for their generators — preparing to weather however long it takes for their communities to open back up.
In Louisiana, downed powerlines, impassible roads and obstacles to rescue workers have pushed many local officials to ask residents who evacuated not to return yet. And for those who waited out the storm at home, many will be facing temperatures as high as 103 degrees without access to power.
Teams are racing to fix the problem. More than 25,000 workers from at least 32 states and the District of Columbia have been mobilized to support power restoration efforts across Louisiana, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) said in a statement Monday.
But when it comes to power outages, “nothing is a quick fix,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Monday.
“While the power is dependent on generators, I’m calling all of our people and businesses that have the capacity in the city to be good neighbors,” Cantrell said. “Share the power you have, open your businesses with the people to recharge their devices.”
It may be difficult to get help
Many hazards including downed structures, impassible roads and remaining flooding are also impacting officials’ ability to send help.
Louisiana State Police (LSP) told stranded residents Monday, “It may be difficult to get help to you for quite some time.”
While troopers continue to assist with clearing roadways, “the full extent of damage is yet to be seen.” Search and rescue workers are still not able to access certain areas, a Facebook post from the LSP said.
“A large portion of travel routes are blocked by downed trees and power lines. In addition, there is standing water in some areas which can deteriorate roads and sweep vehicles away. Debris is also scattered throughout the area, which can make navigating our roadways very difficult,” LSP said.
Paul Middendorf spent hours Monday rescuing people in LaPlace, Louisiana, with his canoe, volunteering with the group Crowdsource Rescue.
“Most of (the rescues) were in the attic,” he said. “The water in the back of that neighborhood was about ten feet deep or higher.”
As the hours ticked away, Middendorf said the water began to recede. Although it was only knee deep in some parts, it continues to be chest deep with a strong current in many areas that are still flooded in LaPlace, he said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he knows there are people waiting to be rescued and the state has deployed “thousands of people” to help with search and rescue efforts.
“We have thousands of people out right now with high-water vehicles and boats who are doing search and rescue. We have dozens of helicopters up,” Edwards said, adding the state “is doing everything we can to get to all the individuals who need help.”
And for those who did evacuate, the dangerous conditions may keep them away from their homes for some time as well.
Those looking to return to Lafourche Parish could be delayed for up to a week, officials said Monday, even as crews work “around the clock to clear the roads.”
“Lafourche Parish roads are currently unpassable and will be for some time,” the Parish said.
Dangerous road conditions contributed to the second storm-related death, the Louisiana Department of Health said Monday.
According to the department, a man drowned after attempting to drive his vehicle through floodwater near I-10 and West End Blvd in New Orleans.
The first storm death occurred when a tree fell on a home in Prairieville, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.
‘Hours of agony’
The potential weeks of difficulty follow a night of harrowing experiences for many.
Don Dottolo, a LaPlace resident, said Sunday night was more than he and his wife, Karen, thought they were going to face.
“Of course, I expected the water. I can deal with the water,” he said.
But Karen Dottolo said the water was deeper than expected. It started coming into their home when it got dark.
“We were afraid for a little while because it was coming up the stairs,” she said.
The couple told CNN they’ve lived through multiple hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“That was scary, but that was 10-minutes scary,” Don Dottolo said. “This was hours of agony.”
In St. Tammany Parish, there have not been reports of any deaths or injuries, but Parish President Mike Cooper told CNN his parish experienced damage and widespread power outages like much of the area.
“We’ve just been through a horrendous night with winds, rain, gusts, water coming up, rivers rising, power outages,” Cooper said. “It’s incredible.”
Hospitals respond and Tennessee prepares
In the aftermath of the storm, many Gulf Coast hospitals are grappling with how to continue caring for patients amid the damage.
Four hospitals in Louisiana were evacuated Monday, Edwards said.
“First of all we really need our hospitals, more than anything else, to come back up, so that people who are in ICU rooms and on ventilators and so forth can continue to receive the life-saving care that they need,” Edwards said. “That’s important all the time. It’s certainly important, even more so, because of the Covid situation.”
As the storm continues to move north, officials in Tennessee are preparing to feel the impacts.
The National Guard, Tennessee Department of Transportation, and volunteer agencies are still cleaning up after a devastating and deadly flood earlier this month in the city of Waverly, and the area is now bracing for potential impacts from Ida. The August 21 flooding in Humphreys County claimed 20 lives.
In preparation for possible flash floods, homeowners in the county were sifting the damage in their homes ahead of the storm to grab any remaining valuables that survived the last flood.
CNN’s Rebekah Riess, Keith Allen, Kay Jones, Gregory Lemos, Paul Pr. Murphy, Amanda Watts and Jenn Selva contributed to this report.
Ida left more than 1 million without power for possibly weeks, and now comes the scorching heat