Hurricane Ida has left catastrophic damage across southeastern Louisiana, killing at least one person, leaving much of the New Orleans area without power, interrupting phone service and sending rescuers scrambling Monday to flooded homes where people were anxiously asking for help.
Ida, now a slow-moving tropical storm over western Mississippi, threatens to cause more flooding not just in the Deep South but also into the Tennessee and Ohio valleys as it crawls north over the next few days.
Rescuers were getting numerous reports of people who climbed into attics or onto roofs as waters rose in their homes, especially in parishes just outside New Orleans.
About 15 people were helped off roofs and into boats early Monday in the city of Slidell alone, and rescuers in high-water vehicles still were taking people to safety in the lower side of town in the late morning, Mayor Greg Cromer said.
Because cell phone service was sporadic in much of the region, rescuers sometimes were having to find for themselves who needed help.
“We’ve had some people that … waded out (of neighborhoods) and flagged police officers down and told us what is going on,” Cromer, whose city is northeast of New Orleans, told CNN on Monday morning.
“Seems like there’s hundreds, possibly more, people trapped in their houses, with some extent of water — from a foot deep to people in the attics,” Jordy Bloodsworth, fleet captain of the Louisiana Cajun Navy volunteer rescue group, told CNN earlier Monday morning.
Communities hit by Ida could see power outages that last weeks
The good news for Louisiana, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards, was none of the state’s levees failed, though some were overtopped.
The governor said that, while Ida was an extremely catastrophic hurricane, the “silver lining” was that the state’s levee systems performed extremely well, particularly the one in the metropolitan New Orleans Area.
“There were a few smaller levees that were overtopped, to some degree, and for some duration of time and that did result in some people’s homes are being flooded,” Edwards said.
“But they did not fail.”Still, storm damage had left more than 1 million customers in Louisiana without power as of Monday night, according to PowerOutage.US.
Entergy Louisiana said some of its customers could be without power for three weeks.
“While 90% of customers will be restored sooner, customers in the hardest-hit areas should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages,” the company said.
Without power for things such as air conditioning in the summer heat, the power outages could be deadly, New Orleans City Councilmember Joe Giarrusso said.
A Facebook post from St. Charles Parish said it was “highly likely” the outages could extend a month.
It was one of the cities and parishes on Monday afternoon that were letting people who evacuated know whether it was safe to return.
“If you evacuated and can stay in place for a few more days, we highly advise it,” officials said in the post. “When you do return, you will need to bring everything you need for at least a week including food, ice, water and fuel.”