At the few gas stations that had fuel and generators to pump, long lines formed around the block. People cleared rotting food from refrigerators. Neighbors shared generators and borrowed buckets of pool water to bathe or flush toilets.
“We have a lot of work to do and no one is under the illusion that it will be a short process,” said Governor John Bel Edwards as the cleanup and reconstruction of the humid region began in the depressing late period. Summer heat.
New Orleans officials announced seven places in the city where people could get a meal and sit in an air conditioner. The city has also used 70 transit buses as refrigeration points and will set up transit points for food, water and ice on Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
Cantrell also ordered a night curfew on Tuesday, calling it an attempt to prevent crime after Hurricane Ida devastated the electricity system and left the city in the dark. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said there have been some arrests for theft.
The mayor also said she expected the main utility Entergy to be able to provide electricity to the city by Wednesday evening, but stressed that it would not mean a quick city-wide restoration. She admitted the frustration in the days to come.
“We know it’s hot. We know we have no power and that remains a priority, ”she said at a press conference.
Edwards said state officials were also working to set up food, water and ice distribution. The governor’s office also said talks were ongoing to set up cooling stations and places where people with oxygen could plug in their machines, but officials had no details on when these could be operational.
An estimated 25,000 utility workers were working to restore electricity, but officials said it could take weeks.
For water treatment plants that were flooded by floods or paralyzed by power outages, there was also a shortage of drinking water in some places. Approximately 441,000 people in 17 communities had no water, and another 319,000 were under cooking water recommendations, federal officials said.
The death toll rose to at least four in Louisiana and Mississippi, including two people killed Monday night when seven vehicles crashed into a 20-foot hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, where a freeway collapsed after torrential rainfall .
Among the crash victims was Kent Brown, a “popular” 49-year-old father of two, said his brother Keith Brown in a telephone interview on Tuesday. Keith Brown said his brother was in construction but had been unemployed for some time. He didn’t know where his brother was going when the crash happened.
Edwards believes the death toll will rise.
At Slidell, crews were looking for a 71-year-old man who was attacked by an alligator that ripped off his arm while walking through the floods of Ida. His wife pulled him to the steps of the house and paddled away for help, but when she returned he was gone, authorities said.
In New Orleans, drivers stood in line for about a quarter of a mile, waiting to get into a Costco, which was one of the few gas stations in town. At other gas stations, drivers occasionally stopped at the pumps, saw the handles covered with plastic bags, and drove away.
Renell Debose spent a week in the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed 1,800 people and made the city almost uninhabitable. She said she was ready to go without electricity for a few days, but nothing more.
“I love my city. That’s what I’m built for. But I can’t do it without air conditioning,” she said.
Michael Pinkrah used his dwindling fuel to find food. He cradled his three-week-old son in the back seat of an SUV and his two-year-old daughter played in the front seat while his wife stood in a long line in the sweltering heat to get to one of the few grocery stores open in town.
Pinkrah said he and his wife were considering evacuation but couldn’t find a hotel room. They found out about the open store through social media. But even that connection was weak.
“We can’t charge our electronic devices to keep in touch with people. And without that all communication fails, ”he said.
In the hard-hit Houma, the grim reality of life without air conditioning, refrigeration, or other more basic supplies began to take hold.
“Our urgent needs right now are tarps, gasoline for generators, food, water,” said Pastor Chad Ducote. He said a Mississippi church group had arrived with food and supplies, and neighbors had come to his pool to get buckets of water.
“The people down here just do what they can. You have nothing, ”he said.
The steamy weather contributed to the misery. A heat warning has been issued for New Orleans and the rest of the region, with forecasters saying the combination of high temperatures and humidity could feel it to be 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday and 106 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.
Cynthia Andrews couldn’t go back to her New Orleans home if she wanted to. She was in a wheelchair and was connected by a power cable to the generator system that operated the elevators and hall lighting in the Hotel Le Meridien.
When the power went out on Sunday, the machine that helps Andrews breathe after a lung collapse in 2018 stopped working. The hotel let her stay in the lobby and provided her with a cot after spending most of the night in her wheelchair.
“It was so scary, but as long as this thing keeps going I’ll be fine,” she said.
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