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Ida’s death toll reaches 4; officials urge those who evacuated not to return

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 8/31/2021 Paulina Firozi, Tim Craig
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NEW ORLEANS — More than a million people began a second day in darkness in storm-stricken Louisiana, facing the possibility of days or weeks without power.

Local and state officials continued to urge those who evacuated to stay away, warning that coming home now could mean returning to an area largely without water and power, struggling with limited services. Louisiana officials said those in particularly hard-hit places who chose not to evacuate may end up leaving anyway, as they find themselves dealing with the strained resources.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said 80 percent of the state’s rescues from the prior day were in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“This storm was every bit as advertised,” he said from a briefing there. “The damage that we have seen here and that they’re dealing with is just catastrophic.”

Edwards said he expects the death toll from the storm to rise. He warned that the situation was still dangerous.

“Historically, we know that most people are injured and killed because of the response, not the storm itself,” the governor said. “Carbon monoxide poisoning for generators; driving through water that turns out to be deeper or having more current than you realize; using power equipment that you’re not accustomed to; falling off a roof when you’re cleaning up; and heat exhaustion.”

Slight change in wind direction creates vastly different disasters for New Orleans suburbs

At least four deaths have been blamed on Ida. In Louisiana, one man died while attempting to maneuver his vehicle through floodwater in New Orleans, while another person died after a tree fell on them in Prairieville, about 15 miles from Baton Rouge.

Two people were killed and 10 were injured after a highway collapsed in southeastern Mississippi because of “torrential rainfalls,” according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

During Tuesday’s briefing, St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said her community is experiencing “one of the greatest disasters.”

“The parish is without power, and we’re without water, so where you currently are now … if you’re in a safe place with water and power, that’s probably the best place for you to be,” Hotard said.

Louisiana’s principal utility, Entergy, is still trying to assess the damage from Ida, which knocked out all eight transmission lines that bring electricity from power plants into Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Thousands of crew members have begun to assess the destruction.

Electric utilities reported more than 1 million Louisiana customers without power Tuesday afternoon, with about 793,000 from the state's largest provider. In Mississippi, 51,000 customers were without service, including 23,000 from Entergy.

The utility said a full damage assessment “could take several days, as many areas are currently inaccessible.”

“Customers in the hardest-hit areas should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages,” it added in a Tuesday update.

Edwards said he would be “unpleasantly surprised” if it took 30 days for some areas to see power restored.

“But there are parts of the state, and as you move from between here and the coast, you have much more damage than you saw even in New Orleans,” he said, “Every area is not going to come back at the same time.”

That is one reason, he said, for people to stay away.

“If you've already evacuated or if you decide to evacuate, take all of this into consideration, because quite frankly it's going to be a while before you have all the conveniences and not just conveniences, the things you need to actually live,” he said during the briefing.

In Waggaman, in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish, residents said most homes suffered at least some damage from Ida. Power poles and trees were snapped and still dangling over roads that snake along Mississippi River levees.

“This is worse than Katrina,” said one man, who declined to give his name. “We got pounded.”

Residents said their biggest immediate need was fuel. Some residents began lining up at a closed service station at 10:30 am, based on rumors that a fuel truck may arrive about 4 p.m.

“We need gas,” Leroy Allen, 60, said as he sat in his car, in sweltering heat. “We need gas to run our generators.” Allen said that his roof was damaged in the storm and that part of his ceiling is leaking. Asked whether state and federal resources are arriving quickly enough, Allen said he understands the delay.

“It’s just too big,” he said. “It’s not just here. It’s everywhere, and the storm was just too big … we need to just pitch in as a community.”

As battered communities scramble for resources and pick up the debris left by the storm, the staggering summer heat poses its own complication.

Many remain without clean water or are without water completely — a situation that increases the existing risk of heat-related illnesses.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for portions of southeast and southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana, warning of heat index values of more than 100 degrees. It warned of heat illness because of hot temperatures and high humidity, urging residents to stay hydrated, but also to be aware of boil water advisories in effect in some areas.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a briefing that cooling centers, charging stations and meal distribution centers are being activated to help those in need.

Air-conditioned buses will also be deployed, the mayor said, with the NOLA Ready emergency preparedness program sharing updates about the locations of these resources.

“Every day, more resources in terms of deployment, we should see some progress,” Cantrell said. “But at the same time we recognize as the days go by, we understand, people could get a little anxious, we know it's hot.”

Cantrell said the lack of power “continues to be a priority that this administration is pushing forward on with Entergy.”

The Weather Service ticked off ways to stay cool: staying in shaded spots, making paper fans, minimizing outdoor activity.

Heat has a cumulative impact, the Weather Service warned, “so you may not feel it today, but it will wear on you over the coming days.”

Adela Suliman, Bryan Pietsch and Holly Bailey contributed to this report.

3:57 PM: Photos: Residents return to LaPlace, La., to find damaged homes and flooded roads

a man standing next to a fence: Elijah Montoya cuts up trees that fell near his home in LaPlace, La., Tuesday. The family fled to Shreveport to wait out the storm and came back to find trees down and roof damage to their home. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Elijah Montoya cuts up trees that fell near his home in LaPlace, La., Tuesday. The family fled to Shreveport to wait out the storm and came back to find trees down and roof damage to their home. Melba Montoya cooks lunch for her family outside her home in LaPlace on Tuesday Her home was damaged by the storm and her family has no electricity or running water. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Melba Montoya cooks lunch for her family outside her home in LaPlace on Tuesday Her home was damaged by the storm and her family has no electricity or running water. a group of people standing around a fire hydrant: Andrew DeRitter, right, pours gas into a truck in a neighborhood in Laplace that was hit hard by Hurricane Ida. DeRitter volunteered to come out from Lafayette to help people who were in need of supplies. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Andrew DeRitter, right, pours gas into a truck in a neighborhood in Laplace that was hit hard by Hurricane Ida. DeRitter volunteered to come out from Lafayette to help people who were in need of supplies. a man standing next to a body of water: A man kayaks down Route 51, which was flooded and impassable to vehicles in LaPlace. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post A man kayaks down Route 51, which was flooded and impassable to vehicles in LaPlace.

By: Michael Robinson Chavez

3:45 PM: Ida could bring flooding, tornadoes to D.C. region on Wednesday

Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, ravaging southeastern Louisiana, cutting power to all of New Orleans and bashing the coast with winds gusting above 150 mph. The system, with winds now relaxed, is now marching up the Appalachians as a tropical rainstorm, and it’s set to drench Washington and the Mid-Atlantic.

Parts of the Washington region have already seen more than nine inches of rainfall in August, meaning the ground is saturated and can’t handle much more. Flash flood watches are up for most of the region, with the greatest potential for excessive rainfall north and west of the city.

The system’s leftover spin could also brew a string of rotating thunderstorms, with the potential to produce tornadoes in our area. The setup bears some shades of Hurricane Ivan, which unleashed a slew of tornadoes west of the nation’s capital in September 2004.

“Wednesday afternoon could be active in terms of tornado activity,” Jeff Halverson, Capital Weather Gang’s severe storms expert, wrote in an email. “We will really need to closely watch this. The combination of unstable air, strong wind shear and leftover spin energy from ex-Ida could come together to create numerous (but generally weak and short-lived) tornadoes.”

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By: Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow

3:14 PM: An air-conditioned paradise serves burgers to those in need of reprieve from the heat

ARABI, La. – Along a long stretch of boarded up businesses along St. Claude Avenue, just over the New Orleans line, Gerald’s restaurant was up and running on generators, an air-conditioned paradise serving burgers, chicken fingers and doughnuts to sweaty locals looking for a reprieve.

“Hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus!” a woman shouted, throwing her hands in the air as she walked in the door, escaping the hot sunshine and swampy air that could lead to serious health issues in coming days in a region entirely without power.

At the counter, a group including local police officers traded gossip with residents on what they’d heard about when the power might come back or where to buy gas.

Down the block, at least 100 cars were lined up on the avenue and through neighborhood streets amid rumors that a fuel tanker might be refilling the local service station soon. A man sat atop his Ford pickup truck guarding his place as first in line at the pump.

“They are lined up on the promise of fuel, just a promise,” said Bobby Daugherty, who said he had gotten in line earlier but left after a police officer threatened to arrest him and others after they ignored requests to move their cars out of the road.

Daugherty nursed an iced Coca-Cola as he waited for his burger at Gerald’s. At the back door, a line formed at the ATM, one of the only working machines dispensing money in a city where cash is king because of the lack of power.

“Hey, anybody know where you can buy gas?” a man shouted as he entered the door.

By: Holly Bailey

1:35 PM: How to keep your phone charged during a power outage

a castle on top of a grass covered field: Homes lie in ruins in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s landfall in southern Louisiana. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Homes lie in ruins in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s landfall in southern Louisiana.

A smartphone can be a lifeline in a natural disaster, connecting you instantly to assistance and real-time resources. Unfortunately, many disasters like hurricanes and wildfires take out the exact things phones rely on to do that work: electricity and cell services.

Hurricane Ida, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, battered Louisiana, with reports of downed power lines, levee failures and flooding, collapsed buildings and residents trapped on rooftops. Nearly 1 million households are still without power and the heavy rain knocked down cell towers, leaving many without a phone connection. Ida is expected to move to the Northeast on Wednesday.

If you’re preparing for, in the midst of, or recovering from a disaster, here are some of the best ways you can get your phone in the best shape to help you, from making a charge last as long as possible to finding the right information online.

Make your battery last

Assume your electricity can go out at any time and plan accordingly. Charge your phone and any additional devices ahead of time, leaving them plugged in until the last minute. Also charge any backup batteries and laptops, then make sure all charging cords are collected in one place to take with you.

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By: Heather Kelly and Chris Velazco

1:02 PM: Flooding, tornadoes could threaten Eastern U.S. because of Ida

map: The remnants of Ida as seen from the GOES East weather satellite early Tuesday morning. (College of DuPage) The remnants of Ida as seen from the GOES East weather satellite early Tuesday morning. (College of DuPage)

It’s been more than 48 hours since Hurricane Ida slammed ashore in southern Louisiana on the verge of Category 5 strength, bringing calamitous storm surge inundation, destructive winds and overall disaster to areas near and south of New Orleans. Now, the relentless storm, which remains a tropical depression as it swirls through the Deep South toward the Tennessee Valley, is slated to drop a slug of serious rainfall, bringing widespread flash flooding and the risk of a few tornadoes.

Flash flood watches stretch more than 1,200 miles, spanning an area from the Florida Panhandle to Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The National Weather Service has included much of that zone in a level 3 out of 4 “moderate risk” of excessive rainfall and flash flooding, with major cities such as Washington, Baltimore, New York and Boston in line Wednesday.

A growing risk for tornadoes will also accompany Ida’s remnants as they move up the East Coast, with the potential for scattered quick-hitting funnels that could touch down with relatively little warning. Tornado watches will probably be issued Tuesday afternoon and much of Wednesday for areas east of Ida’s disintegrating center.

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By: Matthew Cappucci

12:45 PM: ‘This is worse than Katrina’

a boat parked next to a body of water: Homes and streets are flooded Monday in Lafitte, La. The small town south of New Orleans was hammered by the tidal surge pushed forth by Hurricane Ida. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Homes and streets are flooded Monday in Lafitte, La. The small town south of New Orleans was hammered by the tidal surge pushed forth by Hurricane Ida.

In Waggaman, in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish, residents said most homes suffered at least some damage from Ida. Power poles and trees were snapped and still dangling over roads that snake along Mississippi River levees.

“This is worse than Katrina,” said one man, who declined to give his name. “We got pounded.”

Residents said their biggest immediate need was fuel. Some residents began lining up at a closed service station at 10:30 a.m., amid rumors that a fuel truck may arrive about 4 p.m.

“We need gas,” Leroy Allen, 60, said as he sat in his car, in sweltering heat. “We need gas to run our generators.” Allen said that his roof was damaged in the storm and that part of his ceiling is leaking. Asked whether state and federal resources are arriving quickly enough, Allen said he understands the delay.

“It’s just too big,” he said. “It’s not just here. It’s everywhere, and the storm was just too big … we need to just pitch in as a community.”

By: Tim Craig

12:06 PM: In New Orleans, lines for gas stretch half a mile

A man takes shelter in a bus stop along Canal Street as category 4 Hurricane Ida arrives in New Orleans. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post) © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post A man takes shelter in a bus stop along Canal Street as category 4 Hurricane Ida arrives in New Orleans. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

NEW ORLEANS — On Tuesday morning, at least 100 cars sat idling in the hot sun along Tchoupitoulas Street in the Lower Garden District waiting in lines that stretched at least a half mile in each direction outside one of the few gas stations currently open in the city.

With the heat index expected to surpass 100 degrees and uncertainty about when the power could return, some customers were seen filling multiple gas containers to feed their cars and generators.

Near the front of the line was Mickey Hendricks, who said he had been waiting for more than an hour to top off the fuel in his Toyota pickup truck and fill up gas cans to keep his generator going back at his nearby home. “We can last a few days on the generator in this heat, but if we lose that, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.

Hendricks had waited in a line at another gas station Monday when the pumps went dry. “I hope it lasts,” he said, eying the 15 or so cars ahead of him.

At one point, tempers flared at the pumps, as one customer urged another who was filling up multiple gas cans not to be greedy with fuel. Even as the customers carried on, two New Orleans police cars soon showed up, sirens blaring, and took up positions to keep an eye on what seemed to be an increasingly tense situation.

Residents in this part of the city remain deeply scarred by memories of Katrina. The Shell Station sits just blocks from the New Orleans Convention Center, where thousands sought refuge in vain from the floodwaters and heat in the days after that storm.

By: Holly Bailey

10:26 AM: Danger of New Orleans power failures could be greater than hurricane’s

Streets are flooded Monday in Lafitte, La. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Streets are flooded Monday in Lafitte, La.

More than a million Louisiana and Mississippi households awoke in darkness Tuesday, after Hurricane Ida’s winds and rains felled major portions of the power grid, facing a grim prospect: No one knows when the lights will come back on.

Areas that prepared for the Category 4 storm that struck the Gulf Coast on Sunday — it is now a tropical storm washing over parts of Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky — appeared to have weathered the system better than many feared.

But residents and aid workers say it will soon become clear that Ida’s danger extends well beyond the failure of the energy grid that could remain offline for weeks in the midst of a sweltering southeastern summer. Cars will run out of gas. Generators will shutter without more fuel. Cellphone batteries will expire. Water treatment systems will buckle without a reliable power system. Residents face perilously hot conditions with little respite.

Electric utilities reported more than 1 million Louisiana customers without power Tuesday morning; 789,000 of those are customers of the state’s largest provider, Entergy. In Mississippi, 60,000 customers are without service, including 25,000 from Entergy. The company said Monday that residents in the hardest-hit areas could expect to wait as much as three weeks to have electricity restored.

Entergy said Monday that 216 substations, 207 transmission lines and more than 2,000 miles of its transmission lines were out of order in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Really what we’re looking at is how you sustain a large population in New Orleans when it’s very hot, very humid and there’s no power or food,” said Nate Mook, chief executive of relief agency World Central Kitchen, which is preparing to serve 50,000 meals per day in New Orleans for weeks on end. “We’re looking at a really difficult situation that is more dangerous than the actual storm impacts. If the energy company isn’t able to get the power back on in a week, imagine.”

Read the full story here.

By: Jacob Bogage

9:42 AM: Chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen are feeding storm victims in Louisiana

Chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, has set up in parts of Louisiana to serve meals to affected residents and first responders dealing with the Ida aftermath.

In a post Monday from Houma, Andrés said the group was unable to set up inside a shelter, so it set up outside and dozens came out to the lot to be fed.

He said organizers planned to serve thousands of hot meals and sandwiches on Monday.

“I’m trying to be reaching as many communities as we can, as quick as we can, especially the people that lost everything,” he said in a video posted from the lot. “Nobody should be going through the pain of hunger … and water specifically in a moment it’s so humid and so hot.”

In an interview on CNN, Andrés said the group is hearing from friends and family of those in heavily affected areas who are in need of help. The World Central Kitchen teams are getting phone calls about the various needs from different parishes.

“The most important for me is with the teams at World Central Kitchen to go to those places that have been in the path of the hurricane, not waiting for their phone call but trying to reach them in real time with boots on the ground,” he said on CNN.

The organization also shared images of team members serving meals at a kitchen based in New Orleans.

Andrés posted a clip on his drive from Houma to New Orleans, describing “lots of water on the road in places,” as he drove through soaked streets.

In response to a tweet about people stranded at the New Orleans international airport, including staff and first responders, Andrés tweeted that he plans to head there to take care of them on Tuesday.

By: Paulina Firozi

8:54 AM: Slight change in wind direction spells different disasters for New Orleans suburbs

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: First responders rescue residents from floodwater left behind by Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, La. © Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg First responders rescue residents from floodwater left behind by Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, La.

LAPLACE, La. — Carmen Girton fled her trailer park this weekend for a friend’s two-story home in this Louisiana parish, hoping her family would be safer from Hurricane Ida’s nerve- and home-shredding winds.

She watched in terror as the eyewall ripped off pieces of the roof late Sunday, leaving Girton’s family exposed to a storm that whirled slowly and stubbornly as a Category 4 torrent for far longer and farther inland than many in this New Orleans suburb could have imagined. She wept when she returned and saw what was left of her home.

“It’s devastating, having no home,” Girton, 43, said through tears. “Coming back to find you don’t have none. We don’t know what we’re going to do.”

On the opposite shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Kevin Minihan’s home was surrounded by four feet of floodwater, but he was ecstatic that his property — which is on stilts — was mostly unscathed.

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By: Ashley Cusick, Tim Craig and Arelis R. Hernández

8:08 AM: More than 1 million still in the dark as power outages continue

a man standing in a room: Members of the Arceneaux family look at the damage from water in their home in Laplace, Louisiana, on August 30, 2021 after Hurricane Ida made landfall. Powerful Hurricane Ida battered the southern U.S. state of Louisiana and knocking out power for more than a million people, including the whole of New Orleans. © Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images Members of the Arceneaux family look at the damage from water in their home in Laplace, Louisiana, on August 30, 2021 after Hurricane Ida made landfall. Powerful Hurricane Ida battered the southern U.S. state of Louisiana and knocking out power for more than a million people, including the whole of New Orleans.

More than 1 million people were waking up to another day without electricity in Louisiana on Tuesday, as well as the grim prospect that the situation could continue for days after Hurricane Ida struck.

Over 59,000 people also had no electricity in Mississippi as of early Tuesday, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks and aggregates live power outages across the United States.

Louisiana’s principal utility, Entergy, is still trying to assess the damage from Ida, which knocked out all eight transmission lines that bring electricity from power plants into Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The company said it has a storm team of more than 20,000 people, which has begun assessing the vast destruction across New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, the company said a full damage assessment “could take several days, as many areas are currently inaccessible.”

“Once damage assessment is complete, we can provide customers with estimated restoration times,” Entergy added.

In an earlier statement, Entergy said while 90 percent of customers will have power restored sooner, “customers in the hardest-hit areas should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages.”

Residents have reported food spoiling in refrigerators, broken air conditioning units and gas pumps, and even toilets unable to flush.

State Rep. Mandie Landry (D) told CNN on Tuesday that dealing with power outages was a priority. Officials are particularly worried about the elderly amid rising heat.

“August right now is the hottest time of the year. It’s extremely warm right now … so not having any electricity is terrible,” Landry said.

Some remote areas were also without running water, she said, adding that any timeline on power fully returning remains “uncertain.”

By: Adela Suliman and Paulina Firozi

8:05 AM: How climate change helped make Hurricane Ida one of Louisiana’s worst

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From its birth, the storm was destined to become a monster.

It formed from air that was hot, moist and thick with clouds. It incubated in the sultry Gulf of Mexico, drawing power from water that was unusually warm.

By the time Hurricane Ida made landfall in Port Fourchon, La., on Sunday, it was the poster child for a climate change-driven disaster. The fast-growing, ferocious storm brought 150-mph wind, torrential rain and seven feet of storm surge to the most vulnerable part of the U.S. coast. It rivals the most powerful storm ever to strike the state.

Though Ida was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday, it still poses a major threat as it makes its way across the southeast. Heavy rains could trigger flash flooding from Mississippi to Appalachia, including in areas where soils have already been saturated by an unusually wet summer.

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By: Sarah Kaplan

7:02 AM: Video: Elderly residents recount fleeing condo building as Hurricane Ida raged

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By: Tom Moore and Whitney Leaming

6:30 AM: Time-lapse video footage shows dramatic impact of Ida

Dramatic time-lapse video footage has emerged showing the rapid onset and damage wrought by Ida.

Images of water climbing to submerge tall trees, flooded roads and streetlights being knocked over amid heavy rains were shared online in footage caught mostly by home and business cameras.

Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish Government released video of before-and-after footage from a fire station in Delacroix, captured by a security camera over one hour, as it was overcome by Ida.

By: Adela Suliman

6:05 AM: In hardest slam since Katrina, New Orleans’s levees stand firm

a group of people walking down the street: Crews re-open a levee flood gate across Louisiana Route 1 after motorists missed a closure deadline and became trapped ahead of Hurricane Ida in Golden Meadow, La., on Saturday. © Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg Crews re-open a levee flood gate across Louisiana Route 1 after motorists missed a closure deadline and became trapped ahead of Hurricane Ida in Golden Meadow, La., on Saturday.

The winds were fierce, the water seemed endless and the whole city went dark, but 16 years after a historic failure of New Orleans’s defenses against disaster, the levees held. When Hurricane Ida whipped through on Sunday night, America’s most vulnerable city, half of which sits below sea level, was not inundated.

The $15 billion federal rebuild of the earthen walls that protect New Orleans from storm-swept surges of water is a one-shot, and despite ever-fiercer storms and changing weather patterns, its ambitious design has not been replicated in many of the nation’s stormiest regions.

Although residents still face weeks or even months without lights and cooling, the extreme flooding that made Katrina so devastating in 2005 was avoided this time both because of the massive investment in defenses and because this storm was not as direct a hit as Katrina, according to government officials, independent engineers and environmental activists.

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By: Marc Fisher and Tik Root

5:35 AM: New Orleans police warn against looting in Ida aftermath

a view of a city at sunset: Utility poles damaged by Hurricane Ida in Lockport, Louisiana, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. © Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg Utility poles damaged by Hurricane Ida in Lockport, Louisiana, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

The New Orleans Police Department has deployed anti-looting teams and urged residents to stay home overnight because of concerns over public safety amid continued power outages.

“There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be on the streets of the city of New Orleans during the nightfall,” Shaun Ferguson, superintendent of the police department, said Monday in a video posted on Twitter.

“We have implemented our anti-looting plan … to discourage those who wish to commit any looting crimes,” he said.

Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell (D) reiterated Monday that looting was not widespread but that enforcement would be tough.

“My directive has been very clear: Lock ’em up. We will not tolerate and we have not tolerated it,” she told reporters.

Elsewhere in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III said during a Monday news conference that there had been no reports of widespread looting in the parish, which is largely suburban and borders New Orleans to the west. The sheriff assured residents that he “had more deputies on the streets than I know what to do with.”

By: Adela Suliman and Emmanuel Felton

5:16 AM: Ida’s remnants will affect the D.C. area Wednesday: What you need to know

a view of a city at sunset: Cars drive along the Crescent City Connection Bridge after Hurricane Ida passed through on Aug. 30, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images Cars drive along the Crescent City Connection Bridge after Hurricane Ida passed through on Aug. 30, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ida, which made landfall as an extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane, has left portions of Louisiana in ruins. While it has weakened to a tropical storm, the remnants will continue to progress inland. The projected track shows the core of the decaying storm will arc toward the northeast, then east, reaching the D.C. area by late Wednesday.

Rain and thunderstorms from the system could arrive as soon as overnight Tuesday. The potential for flooding and, if ingredients come together, tornadoes will increase on Wednesday. The heaviest rain and highest chance for severe weather may occur Wednesday afternoon and night, although this timing is subject to change.

A flash flood watch has been issued for the region between Wednesday and Thursday morning for two to four inches of rain and locally higher amounts. The risk of flooding is intensified due to the amount of rain the region has already had this month. Over nine inches have fallen in Washington, more than twice the average.

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By: Jeff Halverson

4:30 AM: Louisiana man missing after alligator attack in floodwaters, officials say

A 71-year-old man is missing after he was attacked by an alligator in knee-deep water at his home in Louisiana, officials said Monday evening.

Jason Gaubert, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Fire District No. 1, said the man’s wife witnessed an alligator bite the man’s arm off at his home in Slidell, La., near the eastern shores of Lake Pontchartrain. The home is near Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, whose marshes are known to be home to large alligators.

The man’s wife went to get help, but he was missing when she returned, Gaubert told The Washington Post in an email, adding that “his body has not been recovered.”

Detectives who responded to the scene “could see signs of blood — that somebody was attacked,” Lance Vitter, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, told WWL, a local television news station.

The man was in a shed underneath the raised house when his wife found him, Vitter said.

“She heard the ruckus, and then when she opened the door and looked down, he was being attacked by the alligator,” he said.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, alligators “are quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered.”

Foul play is not suspected and the matter is under investigation, Vitter said, adding that his wife has been “very cooperative” with investigators. Police have not released the couple’s names.

Alligator attacks are rare in the United States, and even rarer in Louisiana, where the only recorded fatal attack by an alligator was in the 1700s.

Two deaths in the state had been confirmed as of Monday evening to have been linked to Hurricane Ida: A man in New Orleans drowned after attempting to drive through floodwater, and a person in Ascension Parish died after a tree fell on them.

A body was found in Jefferson Parish on Monday, but officials had not confirmed that the death was caused by the storm.

By: Bryan Pietsch

4:10 AM: 2 dead, 10 injured after ‘torrential’ rains lead to highway collapse in Mississippi

Two people were killed and 10 people were injured late Monday after a highway collapsed in southeastern Mississippi following “torrential rainfalls,” the Mississippi Highway Patrol said.

Part of Highway 26, a two-lane state highway, washed out west of Lucedale, said Cal Robertson, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The washout was 50 feet long and 20 feet deep, he said, describing the highway as a “high road with steep embankments.”

Rescue crews pulled people from seven cars after responding to calls shortly after 10:30 p.m. local time on Monday, Robertson said. Three of the injured were in critical condition, three were in moderate condition, and four had minor injuries, he said. The injured people were transported to hospitals by ambulances from “several counties,” Robertson said.

The area had been hit with “torrential rainfalls in the last 24 hours” as a result of Ida, he said. Officials were waiting for cranes to get to the scene to “reach out at a distance that’s safe,” as there were concerns that the road could collapse under tow trucks.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol was investigating the collapse, and engineers from the state transportation department were set to assess the damage, Robertson said.

The collapse in Mississippi comes after two Hurricane Ida-linked deaths in Louisiana. Officials on Monday said a man in New Orleans drowned after driving through floodwater, and on Sunday, a person died after a tree fell on them near Baton Rouge.

By: Bryan Pietsch

3:45 AM: Tulane University evacuates students, cancels in-person classes until October

Tulane University said it will evacuate students to Houston and close its New Orleans campus until October as the city recovers from Hurricane Ida.

Classes are canceled until Sept. 13, when they will resume online, the university said in a statement. Tulane plans to resume in-person classes on Oct. 11.

Undergraduate and graduate students who live on and off campus will be evacuated by bus to Houston starting Tuesday at 10 a.m. local time, the university said.

“All students should pack no more than 2 pieces of luggage, their computer, and valuables,” the university said. Students who were self-evacuating were told that they would not be allowed on campus after 5 p.m. local time Tuesday.

Tulane said it will provide food and lodging for students “until they can get flights home.” Funds were available for students who were in need of financial assistance, it said.

Students evacuating to Houston “should make travel arrangements within 2-3 days after arriving,” the university said. “Students who are absolutely unable to relocate from Houston may request to stay with Tulane staff in Houston until the university re-opens.”

The relocation effort could be particularly difficult for the university’s international students, especially amid international coronavirus travel restrictions: Tulane University has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 8,600, according to its website, including students from 50 states and 77 countries.

Meanwhile, Loyola University New Orleans said Monday that it had canceled classes for at least the rest of the week, with an update for students coming “as soon as we have a better understanding of how soon we can get back up and running.” Loyola said it would shuttle students to airports in Gulfport, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., and that temporary housing was available in Mobile.

By: Bryan Pietsch

2:58 AM: With the lights off, food spoiling and gas pumps out of order, New Orleans faces extended power failure

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The coming days or weeks without electricity in hurricane-battered New Orleans and its surrounding region will mean candles and oil lamps, canned food, no cellphone service, no air conditioning or fans in near-90-degree heat for those without generators. Televisions won’t get signals, and radio batteries will die.

Outside homes, the misery exists on a wider scale: Service stations without power can’t pump gas, and sewage pumping stations without working pumps can’t pull wastewater out of the plumbing of thousands of households.

Louisiana’s principal utility, Entergy, is still trying to assess the damage from Hurricane Ida, which knocked out all eight transmission lines bringing electricity from power plants into Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The company said Monday it could be weeks before service is fully restored to the nearly 900,000 Louisiana customers who have lost it in the storm. Several hundred thousand who rely on other utility companies are also in the dark.

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By: Will Englund, Marc Fisher and Jacob Bogage

2:01 AM: All Tuesday flights in and out of New Orleans airport canceled

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport reported Monday night that airlines had canceled all incoming and outgoing flights for Tuesday, and that nearly 200 cancellations had been reported for Wednesday in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Hours earlier, the airport had tweeted that although the terminal and runways didn’t appear to have any significant damage, loss of water pressure was affecting airport operations, including air conditioning and restroom facilities. It was operating on emergency generator power at the time, with all landline phones out of service, and crews were clearing debris and repairing the perimeter fence.

Power outages are expected to linger for days or even weeks across the region, and officials have asked people not to travel.

By: Kendra Nichols

2:00 AM: 911 calls after Ida went unanswered in New Orleans due to ‘antiquated’ technology

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In the years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the 911 system had undergone a major overhaul. The aging telephone system was replaced. Separate centers for medical, police and fire calls were consolidated under one roof. And new call-routing technology to prevent the whole thing from going down during a disaster was scheduled to be installed early next year.

Then Hurricane Ida hit, and the 911 call center crashed, failing its first major test.

Calls for help didn’t go through. The center was offline for 13 hours on Monday. The Orleans Parish Communication District, which runs the dispatch center, was forced to take to Facebook to tell people that if they had an emergency, they should walk to a nearby fire station or flag down a police officer to report it.

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By: Todd C. Frankel, Aaron Gregg and Drew Harwell

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