In Jean Lafitte, south of New Orleans, the levees were overflowed and residents were on their rooftops, awaiting the arrival of lifeboats, said Mayor Tim Kerner Jr.
“We will make sure we have as many boats as possible,” to help with the rescues, he said, adding that the boats were ready to embark as soon as the weather rose. “It really breaks your heart when you know these people and you can’t reach them.”
In nearby Plaquemines Parish to the northwest, flash floods were reported early Monday morning after a dike broke near Highway 23, according to the New Orleans National Weather Service. Based on the number of calls, texts and emails from the area, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser earlier told CNN that he believed there was probably ” several dozen “people who had not left the parish and were awaiting the end of the storm.
After making landfall on Sunday, Ida has now almost slowed over Louisiana, causing flash flooding as she dumps inches of rain over the southeastern part of the state.
By making landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Ida is already historic in its own right. The storm is now linked to last year’s Hurricane Laura and the island’s last hurricane of 1856 as the state’s strongest storm.
Although the extent of the damage is not clear until daybreak and teams can assess the chaos, early reports indicate that the situation for many of the residents who have remained behind is dire.
Jefferson Ward has received calls from people asking for help as water rose to their chests in their homes, Ward President Cynthia Lee Sheng told CNN on Sunday evening. But with high winds, flooding and reports of dangers including fallen power lines and uprooted trees, Sheng said unsafe conditions made it difficult for emergency crews to provide assistance.
And Ida still has a lot of strength. The Category 1 hurricane is heading north over southeastern Louisiana, with sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm is weakening very slowly and will likely continue to hit the southeast coast and lower Mississippi valley with heavy rainfall throughout the morning, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. The area could receive 10 to 24 inches of rain, which could lead to sudden and life-threatening urban flooding.
Tornadoes will continue to be a threat to the Gulf Coast through Monday, with the threat extending into central and north Mississippi and Alabama.
The storm is expected to turn northeast Monday and head into mid-Tennessee and upper Ohio Valley through Wednesday. Until then, Louisiana will be hit hard by rain, flooding and wind.
“I did not see a relentless wind [like this] in my lifetime, “Saint Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis told CNN.
Closed roads and damaged hospitals
Two of the three hospitals in Lafourche Parish suffered damage in Sunday’s epic storm, Laforche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre told CNN.
Part of the roof of Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano was torn off as Ida came ashore, Webre told CNN’s Pamela Brown. The county was also forced to move its emergency operations center to another building after the roof of the first building began to leak on Sunday, Webre told CNN.
Hospitals dealing with storm damage and caring for hurricane victims were already severely strained by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Before we got into this storm, our hospital was already near capacity,” Dr. Derek Smith of Ochsner Health System told CNN. “We know the coming hours are going to be even more of a test.”
The hospital, which is near New Orleans, runs on generators and staff have been locked up there – sleeping on air mattresses and working around the clock to care for patients, Smith said.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, had yet to feel Ida’s worst when Mayor Toby Barker spoke to CNN on Sunday night, but officials were bracing for storm damage and stress on their hospitals.
“We know both of our hospitals are at full capacity because of Covid, and we really need everyone tonight just to make good decisions,” Barker said.
The storm also impacted the access of lifeguards to enter and residents to exit.
The Kerner Swing Bridge in Jefferson Parish was struck by a barge on Sunday as Ida was pounding Louisiana, the parish government said, prompting officials to warn residents that he may not be sure of cross by car.
And due to fallen trees on the roadway, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development closed about 35 miles of Interstate 10, a major thoroughfare that crosses the state from east to west.
The closed portion of the road runs from Louisiana Highway 73 – near Dutch Town, Louisiana – to Louisiana Highway 641 – near Gramercy, Louisiana.
In the parish of Lafourche, every road was impassable on Sunday night, Webre told CNN.
There is a curfew in place for the parish of Lafourche, “and we will be setting up checkpoints to aggressively enforce this curfew,” the sheriff said.
Officials plan to survey the parish with every county employee available in the morning, but with the lack of power, downed power lines and scattered debris, Webre foresees no opportunity to clear the roads on Sunday night that would allow all travel before the Sunrise. .
Governor calls for help with “one of the most severe storms to ever hit Louisiana”
Once the storm subsides, there are 21 urban search and rescue teams from around 15 states ready to search, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN on Sunday. .
“At the height of a hurricane, you can’t get first responders out because it’s just too dangerous. The wind speed doesn’t allow it,” he explained. “As soon as we can, we will be engaged in very robust search and rescue operations. “
Edwards said he predicted the storm would continue to cause damage throughout the night, noting that it had not yet reached I-10 and that the expected wind and rain, which could reach 20 to 24 inches in some areas, are likely to cause further damage. in the state.
“It’s tough all over Southeast Louisiana,” he said, adding “It’s a very devastating storm.”
On Sunday evening, President Joe Biden granted Edwards’ request for a declaration of major disaster, ordering federal agencies to complete state and local recovery efforts.
Edwards has asked for federal government assistance related to emergency protection actions, shelter and temporary housing costs, his office said.
A request for federal assistance in the removal of debris and damage to infrastructure was also included, according to the press release.
“Hurricane Ida is one of the most severe storms to ever hit Louisiana,” Edwards said in a press release Sunday, underscoring the urgency of the statement.
The chef prepares to serve over 10,000 meals
Chef Jose Andres left Haiti on Saturday, which is recovering from a major earthquake. On Sunday, he and his World Central Kitchen were in New Orleans to assemble a team before the storm.
“As soon as the hurricane moves away, we can still start cooking,” Andres told CNN.
Many other NGOs will join them on the ground to ensure that people in areas affected by the storm have food and water, he said.
No two hurricanes are the same, Andres said. So even though his teams have already provided food and water to people in need following crises, they will need to adapt to the specific circumstances they face in Louisiana. That means cooking with generators providing the only trucks of electricity and food strategically placed to reach the vast storm-hit region, he said.
Another complication for serving meals to a large number of people: the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead of serving platters that could feed dozens of people at once, Word Central Kitchen had to start preparing meals individually.
Through it all, the most important question: “How are we going to be able to feed this city of New Orleans, and more importantly, how are we going to be able to feed the whole state of Louisiana,” said Andres.
CNN’s Michael Guy, Joe Sutton, Hollie Silverman, Keith Allen, Gregory Lemos, Dave Hennen, Paul P. Murphy and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.
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