What we know about Ida aftermath: 2 million in Louisiana without power amid stifling heat and supply shortages
Two million Louisianans remained without power for a fourth day Wednesday as the impact of Hurricane Ida's devastating romp through the Southeast grew more dire amid oppressive heat.
At least seven deaths had been attributed to the storm as Ida's remnants smashed north. One person was killed Wednesday in a flood in Rockville, Maryland, in heavy rain from what was left of Ida.
Although Ida was no longer a hurricane, much of the Northeast was bracing for possibly life-threatening and damaging flooding all the way to New England. More than 50 million people in the Northeast were under a flash flood watch Wednesday.
In New Orleans, lines for gasoline extended for blocks at stations that had any. Grocery stores had similar struggles. Authorities scrambled to provide cooling centers, ready-made meals and water while urging evacuees to stay away. But many residents either never left or could stay away no longer.
“I don’t have a car. I don’t have no choice but to stay,” said Charles Harris, 58, as he looked for an open eatery in triple-digit temperatures.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who announced a nighttime curfew Tuesday to prevent crime, said a few communities could regain power by Thursday. The utility Entergy said Wednesday that it had begun restoring power, although the number of homes and businesses in the state without power held steady at just under 1 million for much of the day.
"The first light shined early this morning in New Orleans East," Entergy said in a tweet. "Crews will have to methodically bring back additional transmission lines over time to provide additional pathways for progress."
Authorities warned that full recovery from the storm could take months.
"No one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
Accused looters jailed in lieu of $1 million bail in Terrebonne Parish
Southwest of New Orleans in hard-hit Terrebonne Parish, Sheriff Timothy Soignet said there will be no tolerance for looters. The Sheriff’s Office had made multiple looting arrests, and all the suspects faced $1 million bails, Soignet said. A Louisiana Sheriff’s Association task force has been activated. and law enforcement officers from across the state have arrived in Houma to help with patrols, the sheriff said.
“Anyone caught looting will be arrested,” he said. “No Sheriff’s Office employee will issue a misdemeanor summons for looting. I have arranged to have these immoral people booked and housed in another parish. With the help of our judges, these criminals will have a hard time making these bonds.”
In Houma, devastation and regret
In front of his severely damaged home, Charles, 70, said the house shook and rattled when Ida passed through. He had begun to pack a bag in case he needed to call someone for help but quickly determined that wouldn't be an option.
"Ida just tore it up," Charles said. "I made the bad mistake of staying here."
Charles said he has been staying at the home since the storm passed. His daughter, who lives nearby, has encouraged him to stay with her, but he doesn't want to leave.
"I've been here all my life, and we've done went through all of the major hurricanes plus the minor ones. We never had a problem. This is the only problem we've had in my 70 years on this earth," he said. He noted that his 71st birthday is next Wednesday.
Louisiana was hit with Ida's worst, with at least two people killed, but other states also were slammed.
Two die in Alabama
Two utility workers died while working to restore power in Adger, Alabama, their company said. James Banner, senior vice president of Pike Electric, said the two employees were working on the ground for Alabama Electric when they came in contact with a power line. Banner told USA TODAY the company was investigating.
"Our prayers are with each of their families," Banner said.
Alabama Power also released a statement saying it was aware of a "tragic accident involving Pike Electric employees supporting Alabama Power in storm restoration. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pike Electric family during this difficult time.”
Mississippi, Virginia battle flooding
A wide swath of Mississippi was overwhelmed by flooding, and two people died there in a highway collapse that injured 10 other people. In Virginia, flash flooding knocked about 20 homes off their foundations and washed several trailers away in the state’s mountainous western corner. About 50 people were rescued and hundreds more were evacuated. Virginia was bracing for heavy rains, flooding and possibly tornadoes across much of the state, and Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency.
3,000 evacuated in Pennsylvania town
Emergency officials rushed to evacuate about 3,000 people downstream from a dam near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday after hours of heavy rains. A day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency.
“This dangerous storm continues to have devastating impacts across the South, and as it heads toward Pennsylvania, we are expecting significant rainfall across the state,” Wolf said. “I urge Pennsylvanians to monitor local weather and traffic conditions before making any plans and prepare for potential flooding.”
Bonnaroo music festival canceled in Tennessee
Heavy rains and strong winds from Ida's remnants knocked over trees and power lines in Georgia. In Tennessee, organizers of Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival canceled the four-night event because of intense rainfall.
"We are absolutely heartbroken to announce that we must cancel Bonnaroo," organizers tweeted. "While this weekend’s weather looks outstanding ... the ground is incredibly saturated on our tollbooth paths, and the campgrounds are flooded."
Contributing: Emily Enfinger, Houma Today; Dan Copp, The (Thibodaux, La.) Daily Comet; The Associated Press