Ida’s sweltering aftermath: No power, no water, no gasoline

Tropical_Storm_67974 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Dewayne Pellegrin a bowling alley mechanic, cleans up the heavily damaged Bowl South of Louisiana Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Storm_39523 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, people wait in line for gas Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans, La.
Hurricane_Ida_32362 Jason Ledet relieves a tool as he works in a destroyed bowling alley as they try to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ida Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Storm_20854 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, people wait in line for gas Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans, La.
Tropical_Weather_85674 Homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lafitte, La. The weather died down shortly before dawn.
Tropical_Weather_56261 Jerilyn Collins returns to her destroyed home with the assistance of the Louisiana National Guard to retrieve medicine for herself and her father, and a few possessions, after she evacuated from rising floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, La., Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_86655 Surveying the damage for the first time, Sharon Orlando tries to hold back tears on the morning after Hurricane Ida hit her Destrehan, La., home on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_84557 Cyclists peddle through floodwaters caused by the effects of Hurricane Ida near the New Orleans Marina, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in New Orleans, La.
Tropical_Weather_36535 St. John the Baptist Parish rescue teams place a person onto the back of a truck during an evacuation on the morning after Hurricane Ida hit the area, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in St. John the Baptist Parish, La.
Tropical_Weather_Atlantic_64461 Customers shop in the dark at a convenience store after the effects the effects of Hurricane Ida knocked out power in the area, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Nhew Orleans, La.
Tropical_Weather_85433 A military helicopter lands on Highway 51 where water is still crossing parts of the road in LaPlace, La., on the morning after Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_00320 Rescue personnel help residents of the Spring Meadow subdivision out of their flooded homes on a boat after Hurricane Ida moved through Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in LaPlace, La.
Tropical_Weather_Atlantic_88623 Residents are rescued from floodwaters by members of the Louisiana State Fire Marshall's Office in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, La., Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_35800 Homes near Norco, La., are surrounded by floodwater as chemical refineries continue to flare the day after Hurricane Ida hit southern Louisiana, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Hurricane_Ida_46378 Employees of The Italian Pie in downtown New Orleans, La., look at a co-worker's car that took a direct hit of bricks from a nearby building, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The men were cleaning up two days after Hurricane Ida.
Hurricane_Ida_Louisiana_17946 In this drone image released by NOAA, flood waters cover Tom's Marine & Salvage in Barataria, La., following the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Tropical_Storm_63698 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Dewayne Pellegrin a bowling alley mechanic, cleans up the heavily damaged Bowl South of Louisiana Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Storm_12713 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, people wait in line for gas Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans, La.
APTOPIX_Hurricane_Ida_Louisiana_Utilities_54341 Crews begin work on downed power lines leading to a fire station, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Waggaman, La., as residents try to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ida.
Hurricane_Ida_New_Orleans_73083 Volunteers and neighbors with the Committee for a Better New Orleans serve food in the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, two days after Hurricane Ida. World Central Kitchen along with local restaurants helped coordinate the food.
Hurricane_Ida_73907 People wait in long lines for food and supplies outside a Rouses grocery on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, La., two days after Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
Tropical_Storm_30162 A barge damages a bridge that divides Lafitte, La., and Jean Lafitte, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in La.
Tropical_Storm_84574 People move in boat on flooded streets in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lafitte, La.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Storm_46744 A flooded city is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lafitte, La.
Tropical_Weather_38552 Homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lafitte, La. The weather died down shortly before dawn.
Tropical_Storm_52026 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Amy Voisin cleans up the heavily damaged Bowl South of Louisiana Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Storm_71244 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, people wait in line for gas Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.,
Tropical_Storm_89862 A power company employee works on a line Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Tropical_Weather_92908 An out of service gas pump is seen where motorists waited up to four hours in line just to find out the station was sold out of gas, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans, La. New Orleans is without power with the exception of those with generators.
Hurricane_Ida_53259 People wait in line at a convenience store, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans. The effects of Hurricane Ida left New Orleans without power with the exception of those with generators.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Atlantic_79354 Christopher Atkins, left, helps his friend, George Soloman, remove a TV and other items from his Banks Street home Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, after a wall collapsed and roof was damaged during Hurricane Ida in New Orleans.
Tropical_Storm_64061 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Amy Voisin cleans up the heavily damaged Bowl South of Louisiana Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Weather_16730 Kiln, Miss., resident Dennis Mayfield waits to help his family and neighbors with a small boat after Hurricane Ida flooded their neighborhood on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. "You need to prepare for anything," Mayfield said as he dragged his boat into more shallow water.
Tropical_Weather_57254 Floodwater submerges a "For Sale" sign along a bank of the Jourdan River in Kiln, Miss., in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Storm_90285 Workers remove a tree that toppled over onto the roof of a home Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Tropical_Weather_90012 The steeple of the First Baptist Church in Lumberton, Miss., rests on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_85925 Hank Plauche, owner of the Jourdan River Steamer in Kiln, Miss., inspects his restaurant for damage after Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_60342 A boat rests on the beach along N. Beach Drive in Bay St. Louis, Miss., following Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_57298 A boat rests on the beach along N. Beach Drive in Bay St. Louis, Miss., following Hurricane Ida on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_Atlantic_19297 Tony Stewart, of Hattiesburg, Miss., wades through a flooded road in an attempt to inspect his vacation home, following Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Kiln, Miss. "I've seen it worse," Stewart said before turning back as the water reached his waist. "It's not worth the risk."
Tropical_Weather_57217 Kiln, Miss., resident Dennis Mayfield waits to help his family and neighbors with a small boat after Hurricane Ida flooded their neighborhood, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Weather_Atlantic_60600 Children play in heavy wind at Henderson Point Beach in Pass Christian, Miss., following Hurricane Ida on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Tropical_Storm_10814 A barge damages a bridge that divides Lafitte, La., and Jean Lafitte, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in La.
Tropical_Storm_46477 Power trucks converge on a city street in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Houma, La.
Tropical_Storm_30973 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, people wait in line for gas Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in New Orleans, La.
Tropical_Storm_83115 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Patricia Rodrigue looks over the damage to her house Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Houma, La.
Hurricane_Ida_Louisiana_82267 In this aerial photo taken with a drone, flood waters surround storm damaged homes, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Lafourche Parish, La., as residents try to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ida.
(1/47)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Louisianans sweltered in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida on Tuesday with no electricity, no tap water, precious little gasoline and no clear idea of when things might improve.

Long lines that wrapped around the block formed at the few gas stations that had fuel and generator power to pump it. People cleared rotting food out of refrigerators. Neighbors shared generators and borrowed buckets of swimming pool water to bathe or to flush toilets.

“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,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said as the cleanup and rebuilding began across the soggy region in the oppressive late-summer heat.

New Orleans officials announced seven places around the city where people could get a meal and sit in air conditioning. The city was also using 70 transit buses as cooling sites and will have drive-thru food, water and ice distribution locations set up on Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. Edwards said state officials also were working to set up distribution locations in other areas.

Cantrell ordered a nighttime curfew Tuesday, calling it an effort to prevent crime after Hurricane Ida devastated the power system and left the city in darkness. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said there had been some arrests for stealing.

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. Entergy was looking at two options to “begin powering critical infrastructure in the area such as hospitals, nursing homes and first responders,” the company said in a news release.

Cantrell acknowledged frustration in the days ahead.

“We know it’s hot. We know we do not have any power, and that continues to be a priority,” she told a news conference.

More than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi — including all of New Orleans — were left without power when Ida slammed the electric grid on Sunday with its 150 mph (240 kph) winds, toppling a major transmission tower and knocking out thousands of miles of lines and hundreds of substations.

An estimated 25,000-plus utility workers labored to restore electricity, but officials said it could take weeks.

With water treatment plants overwhelmed by floodwaters or crippled by power outages, some places were also facing shortages of drinking water. About 441,000 people in 17 parishes had no water, and an additional 319,000 were under boil-water advisories, federal officials said.

The number of deaths climbed to at least four in Louisiana and Mississippi, including two people killed Monday night when seven vehicles plunged into a 20-foot-deep (6-meter-deep) hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, where a highway had collapsed after torrential rains.

Among the crash victims was Kent Brown, a “well-liked,” 49-year-old father of two, his brother Keith Brown said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. Keith Brown said his brother was in construction but had been out of work for a while. He didn’t know where his brother was headed when the crash happened.

Edwards said he expects the death toll to rise.

In Slidell, crews 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 to the steps of the home and paddled away to get help, but when she returned, he was gone, authorities said.

On Grand Isle, the barrier island that bore the full force of Ida’s winds, Police Chief Scooter Resweber said he was “amazed that no one was killed or even seriously injured.”

About half of the properties on the island of about 1,400 people were heavily damaged or destroyed, and the main roadway was nearly completely covered in sand brought in from the tidal surge.

“I’ve ridden out other hurricanes: Hurricane Isaac, Katrina, Gustav, Ike. … This is the worst,” Resweber said.

In New Orleans, drivers lined up for roughly a quarter-mile, waiting to get into a Costco that was one of the few spots in the city with gasoline. At other gas stations, motorists occasionally pulled up to the pumps, saw the handles covered in plastic bags and drove off.

Renell Debose spent a week suffering in the New Orleans Superdome after 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,800 people and left the city nearly uninhabitable. She said she is willing to give it a few days without electricity, but no more than that.

“I love my city. I’m built for this. But I can’t make it without any air conditioning,” she said.

Michael Pinkrah used his dwindling fuel to find food. He cradled his 3-week-old son in the back seat of an SUV and his 2-year-old daughter played in the front seat as his wife stood in a long line in the sweltering heat to get into one of the few grocery stores open in the city.

Pinkrah said he and his wife thought about evacuating but couldn’t find a hotel room. They found out about the open store through social media. But even that link was tenuous.

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

In hard-hit Houma, the dismal reality of life without air conditioning, refrigeration or other more basic supplies began to sink in.

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

“The people down here are just doing what they can. They don’t have anything,” he said.

Adding to the misery was the steamy weather. A heat advisory was issued for New Orleans and the rest of the region, with forecasters saying the combination of high temperatures and humidity could make it feel like 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday and 106 on Wednesday.

Cynthia Andrews couldn’t go back to her New Orleans home if she wanted to. She was in a wheelchair, tethered by a power cord to the generator system running the elevators and hallway lights at the Le Meridien hotel.

When the power went out 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 she spent nearly a whole night in her wheelchair.

“It was so scary, but as long as this thing keeps running, I’ll be OK,” she said.

___

Deslatte reported from Thibodaux, Louisiana. Associated Press writers Janet McConnaughey, Rebecca Santana and Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Houma, Louisiana; Alina Hartounian in Scottsdale, Arizona; Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee; Sudhin Thanawala in Atlanta; Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Latest News | National News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up