NEW ORLEANS (NEXSTAR) — We’re now able to see the scope of the damage and destruction Hurricane Ida left behind in Louisiana.
More than 1 million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi — including all of New Orleans — were left without power Monday as Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland, pushed through on Sunday and early Monday before weakening into a tropical storm.
The damage was so extensive that officials warned it could be weeks before the power grid was repaired.
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“More emergency supplies will be moving into the region as the weather improves and roads are reopened,” the American Red Cross said in a news release. “In the coming days, dozens of Red Cross emergency response vehicles will begin bringing food and relief supplies to people across the region.”
In the hours following the storm, the Red Cross opened 60 community shelters for about 2,500 people. The group has also served meals and passed out comfort kits and health services to people in need.
The governor’s office said damage to the power grid appeared “catastrophic” — dispiriting news for those left without refrigeration or air conditioning during the dog days of summer, with highs forecast in the mid-80s to close to 90 by midweek.
In hard-hit LaPlace, squeezed between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, rescuers saved people from flooded homes in a near-constant operation.
Debbie Greco, her husband and her son rode out the storm in LaPlace with Greco’s parents. Water reached the first-floor windows, then knocked down the back door and filled the brick home with 4 feet of water. They retreated to the second floor, but then screaming winds collapsed the roof.
They were finally rescued by boat after waiting in the only dry spot, five people sharing the landing on the stairs.
“When I rebuild this, I’m out of here. I’m done with Louisiana,” said Greco’s father, 85-year-old Fred Carmouche, a lifelong resident.
Elsewhere in LaPlace, people pulled pieces of chimneys, gutters and other parts of their homes to the curb and residents of a mobile home park waded through floodwaters.
The hurricane blew ashore on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, the 2005 storm that breached New Orleans’ levees, devastated the city and was blamed for 1,800 deaths.
This time, New Orleans appeared to escape the catastrophic flooding city officials had feared. And the governor said Louisiana’s levees, heavily overhauled since Katrina, “performed extremely well.” But he said the storm still inflicted “tremendous damage” to homes and businesses.
Four Louisiana hospitals were damaged and 39 medical facilities were operating on generator power, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. Officials said they were evacuating scores of patients to other cities.
The governor’s office said over 2,200 evacuees were staying in 41 shelters as of Monday morning, a number expected to rise as people were rescued or escaped from flooded homes. The governor’s spokesperson said the state will work to move people to hotels as soon as possible so that they can keep their distance from one another.
The Louisiana National Guard said it activated 4,900 Guard personnel and lined up 195 high-water vehicles, 73 rescue boats and 34 helicopters. Local and state agencies were adding hundreds more.
The governor said on Sunday that 30,000 utility workers were in the state to help restore electricity.
Ida was expected to pick up speed Monday night before dumping rain on the Tennessee and Ohio River valleys Tuesday, the Appalachian mountain region Wednesday and the nation’s capital on Thursday.
Forecasters said flash flooding and mudslides are possible along Ida’s path before it blows out to sea over New England on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.