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.
Though no longer a hurricane, much of the Northeast was bracing for Ida’s wrath. The potential for life-threatening and damaging flooding reached into New England – more than 50 million residents of 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 Wednesday evening. The utility Entergy said Wednesday that it had begun restoring power.
“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.
In Houma, devastation and regret
Sixty miles southwest of New Orleans, Houma resident Theophilus Charles sat in front of his severely damaged home. Charles, 70, said the house shook and rattled when Ida passed through. He even began to pack a bag just 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 even after the storm had passed; his daughter who lives nearby has even 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 and noted that his 71st birthday is next Wednesday.
Louisiana was hit with Ida’s worst, including at least two deaths, but other states also were slammed.
– Emily Enfinger, Houma Today
Two die in Alabama
The death toll from the storm rose to six when 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 for Alabama Electric and were on the ground when came in contact with a power line. Banner told USA TODAY an investigation into the tragedy was underway.
“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 battles flooding; Virginia braces
A wide swath of Mississippi was overwhelmed by flooding, and two people died there when a highway collapsed.
Virginia was bracing for heavy rains, flooding and possibly tornadoes Wednesday. Gov. Ralph Northam declaring a state of emergency.
Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf declares disaster emergency
Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed a proclamation of disaster emergency in anticipation of significant rainfall and widespread flooding expected from the remnants of Ida.
“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. This proclamation will allow for our emergency preparedness teams to provide any support needed throughout the storm and its aftermath,” Wolf said. “I urge Pennsylvanians to monitor local weather and traffic conditions before making any plans and prepare for potential flooding.”
The heaviest rainfall was expected Wednesday into Wednesday night.
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 an intense rainfall from Ida.
“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: The Associated Press