‘Do Not Return’: Louisiana Governor Tells Hurricane Evacuees Area Not Ready for Living In
Although the storm clouds have long passed, Louisiana’s governor is telling residents who fled before Hurricane Ida hit that the region is not yet ready for their return due to widespread and severe damage.
“If you have already evacuated, do not return here,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the office of emergency preparedness would inform them when they’re ready to receive them.
“Historically, we know that most people are injured and killed because of the response, not the storm itself,” he noted. “Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present, they’re not operating right now.”
More than 1.1 million people in Louisiana and Mississippi were left without power by the destructive force of Ida, which made landfall on Sunday with winds of 150 miles per hour. Widespread flooding caused further devastation, and officials said electricity might not be restored in some places for weeks.
Grand Isle, the last inhabited barrier island on Louisiana’s Gulf coast, was left “uninhabitable” by the storm, which buried the island in feet of sand and damaged every single structure in the town, according to Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng.
"I've ridden out other hurricanes – Hurricane Isaac, Katrina, Gustav, Ike – and this is no comparison whatsoever," Grand Isle Police Chief Scooter Resweber told Fox News. "This is the worst. … It's just amazing that no one (here) was killed or even seriously injured."
According to the Washington Post, a total of seven deaths across three states have been attributed to the powerful storm, which tracked north and east after coming ashore, passing over Virginia and Maryland on Wednesday, where it spun off tornadoes and violent thunderstorms as a greatly weakened tropical weather system. At least one of the deaths, in Louisiana, was attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an electrical generator.
Elsewhere, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are going door-to-door in the hardest-hit neighborhoods to register residents for aid, which will include disaster food stamps. However, the agency noted that claims circulating that it would be paying for hotels for evacuees or people whose houses were rendered uninhabitable by the storm were “false.”
More than 400,000 people remain without water, while another 320,000 are under boil-water advisories due to sewage and water treatment systems also being without power. Fuel shortages are also widespread.
All power in the city of New Orleans was knocked out by Ida, which struck on the anniversary of the catastrophic landfall by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, because of a reinforced levee system and because Ida hit more than 100 miles from the city, the Big Easy still escaped the worst of the damage from the storm despite Ida being a significantly stronger storm than Katrina. A curfew was put in place on Tuesday evening by Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
According to WDSU, local utility provider Entergy had managed to restore power to some parts of New Orleans by late Tuesday night, but by Wednesday afternoon, some 769,000 customers remained without power in southern and eastern Louisiana. According to the Washington Post, another 217,000 from a variety of other electricity providers were also without power.
US President Joe Biden is expected to tour the area on Friday.